Online and Handwritten Homework in Calculus for STEM Majors

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Calculus is an essential intellectual gateway and initiation in the education of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students. In this study, graded online computer homework was compared with graded handwritten homework in second-semester calculus for STEM students. Previous calculus studies excluded STEM students or compared graded online computer homework with ungraded uncollected handwritten homework. Two large sections and two small sections of Calculus II were studied using a quasi-experimental design. Students were given the same lecture by the same instructor for each class. Students were not aware of the type of homework to be assigned when they registered. Online homework sections used WebAssign, which is one of the most widely used textbook and homework systems. The analysis indicates that there was no significant difference in performance between handwritten and online homework. Assessment questions that required graphical answers provided the greatest contrast between handwritten and online homework and were separately evaluated. Controls were included for entering math scores and a socioeconomic indicator. This study does not find any significant difference due to homework type. As a secondary question, the effect of class size is examined.

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Journal of Educational Computing Research

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