WeBWorK: Generating, delivering, and checking math homework via the Internet

TitleWeBWorK: Generating, delivering, and checking math homework via the Internet
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2002
AuthorsGage, M, Pizer, A, Roth, V
Conference Name2nd International Conference on the Teaching of Mathematics
Conference LocationCrete, Greece

Authors' abstract: The WeBWorK system delivers homework problems to students through standard web browsers, giving them instant feedback as to whether or not their answers are correct. It has been developed and used extensively for calculus instruction and physics courses at the University of Rochester over the last six years and is and is currently in use at over 30 other universities. WeBWorK provides an individualized problem set for each student and, as with standard homework, students are allowed to work on each assignment until the due date. When students submit an answer, WeBWorK analyzes their answer and informs them whether or not it is correct, but does not give the correct answer. Students immediately know their status. They have succeeded or they can find and correct a careless mistake, review the relevant material before attacking the problem again, or seek further help with this problem (frequently via e-mail) from friends, the TA or the instructor. With this system, nearly all of our students, after some work, complete almost all of their homework assignments 100% correctly. Our surveys indicate that they are very happy with the instant feedback and the resulting control they feel over their education. WeBWorK's large collection of existing problems and its extensible macro framework (modeled on TeX) for posing questions and checking the answers, allow each instructor to ask the mathematical questions they should as opposed to the questions they must because of machine limitations. By focusing on checking homework answers alone rather than also supplying guidance and instruction, WeBWorK plays to the strengths of computers, and avoids some of the difficulties inherent in trying to build "intelligence" into a computer program. WeBWorK collaborates well with existing educational practices such as traditional lectures, reform calculus, workshops, and expository writing.