Guest Contributor: Kristen Quinn, Northern Essex Community College (Haverhill, Massachusetts).
As I tell all my students as they moan and groan when I assign homework, I went into teaching for two reasons:
1. To make my student lives miserable, and
2. To make millions.
I have a feeling that they only think that I am being sarcastic about the second reason. But getting students to do their homework was an ongoing challenge in courses that I taught, and the lack of practice outside of the classroom was being reflected in the students’ test grades. So I needed to do something different, something to encourage (and force) my students to stay on track and practice the material when they were outside of the classroom.
I teach all levels of accounting (financial, managerial, and intermediate), so practice and repetition is key. I teach at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts and am lucky to have small class sizes (maximum per class is twenty-eight students) and I heard from a lot of my students the following:
- “I don’t have time to do homework, I work thirty-plus hours a week.”
- “I don’t have time to do homework, I have a family.”
- “I don’t have time to do homework for this class because I take four other classes.”
So the challenges were how to make my students want to do the homework (and make time in their busy schedules to do it) and how to keep them engaged in the class when they are not in the classroom. I had always made homework assignments part of their final grade but I decided to increase the weight associated to the homework; I made it worth 20% of their grade. My feeling was if they would put in the effort to earn a good grade for the homework then their test grades that made up the remaining 80% of their grade would be higher.
I decided the best way to keep my students on track and engaged would be by having them complete their homework assignments through CengageNOW. So many times students would say to me that they opened the book, looked at the question, and didn’t even know where to begin, but with the videos, hints, and check my work features in CengageNOW they felt they could get through the problem. This was huge to keeping the students engaged while learning on their own! I felt like CengageNOW gave me the ability to almost be in every student’s home helping them with their homework and guiding them along. There were no more excuses of why they couldn’t try the homework-they had a variety of resources to use no matter what their learning style.
One of my favorite features in CengageNOW is the wide variety of options that instructors have when creating assignments. These are the four key assignments options I have chosen and that have proven to be very helpful in keeping the students on track!
1. Number of takes: I limit the number of takes on the homework to one. (Yes, I said one.) The reason that I did this was when I gave multiple takes the students that should have taken it more than once didn’t and the students that didn’t really have to sometimes would. They would kind of do the assignment, putting in little effort, because they knew they could take it again. When I told them ONE take that is the only thing that stuck in their heads and they ended up spending more time trying to complete that homework assignment because they knew they only had one shot. I of course do not want to penalize my students who do their homework so I tell them that if they do the entire assignment and answer every question and put in a true effort no matter what CengageNOW gives them for a grade, they will get a 100% in my class for the assignment. As I stated before homework counts for 20% of their grade and this is a way to basically add 20 points to their final grade (disclaimer: I do not offer extra credit EVER, I do not drop the lowest test grade so I tell them this is their chance to positively affect their grade (or negatively affect their grade). Also I only have maximum of 28 student in a class so it is easy for me to review everyone’s homework assignment-not so easy if you have 200 students per class)
2. The second very important option I now use is prerequisites! I actually customize my prerequisites. They have to meet two prerequisites in order to move onto the next assignment; 1. The previous assignment has to have been taken, and 2. They have had to spend a certain amount of time on the previous assignment. I do the second option because if they simply open the missed assignment and hit submit it will unlock the next assignment, but if I require a certain amount of time to be spent on the assignment it will not open up unless they complete it. Here is the trick: I don’t tell the students about the second prerequisite, just the first.
3. I limit the amount of times the students can “Check My Work” typically to about three checks per question. This way they don’t get “trigger happy” with clicking that button until they get a green check mark. I want them to see how they are doing and if they can’t figure out an answer after fixing it three times I want them to know they need to ask for extra help on that item!
4. Last but not least I let my students see the correct answers to the homework immediately after they submit it. My feeling is that I have a captive audience at that moment and I want them to be able to see what they did right and wrong.
What I am sure you are all interested in is one simple question; Did it work? And the answer is YES! I had no less than 77% of my class completing each homework assignment and my students need a C or better to move onto the next course in accounting and I had 85% with a C or better.
Kristen Quinn is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Northern Essex Community College. Kristen is also an adjunct accounting professor at Lasell College. She received her Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Assumption College and her Masters of Science in Accountancy from Suffolk University. Kristen has been teaching for the past 6 years and currently uses CengageNOW in her introduction to financial accounting, intermediate accounting and managerial accounting courses. Prior to teaching Kristen worked as an auditor for Grant Thornton, LLP. She is a Technology Power User for Cengage Learning.
How do you get students engaged in their homework assignments? How do you keep students engaged in course material, even after they’ve left your class sessions? Share your thoughts in the comments.
How to Cheat on Homework or Online ClassesInternet Search for Homework Answers, Free Help, How to Send Homework by Email, How to Cheat at Online Classes
My view of homework help (homework cheating):
As a tutor, I try to ask students to learn the material and ask me questions that they are having trouble with. However!... I understand that most students taking college algebra, physics, or chemistry will seldom use the information in those courses and I would rather see someone get on with their life and get a job than get held back. Does a guidance counselor ever use the formula for an ellipse or convert grams to moles or calculate the trajectory of an arrow shot from a bow at an angle of 33.2 degrees above the horizon with an initial speed of 42.8 m/s? NO! So while some people might look down on homework help or homework cheating, I don't see it as a huge sin and those who do can jump in a lake (with piranhas!).
I warn students that they typically need to know the material to pass their class exams, so please don't view this as a complete "get out of jail free card". Also turning in A+ homework and getting F's on an exam is a give-away that you are cheating. Be careful!!!
I offer one of the least expensive homework help services that I know of at about $25/hr. See details on the homepage: www.tutor-homework.com.
We offer homework help in math, chemistry, and physics" as well as statistics homework help.
Just email homework questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or TEXT (no calls, please) 918-850-5925 (David).
Various Methods of "Homework Cheating":
If you are at this page, I'm sure you're aware of the power of doing a Google or Yahoo search. And you probably also know that if you're searching for the answer to a specific question, just type double quotes around your search query.
For example: suppose you are searching for an answer to this question...
How long does it take for a car traveling at a speed of 50.0 miles per hour to travel 300 feet?
You can copy and paste the question into a search engine and you will get back thousands, possibly millions, of results, many of them trying to sell you a new car (ha ha). To narrow your search, put double quotes around the question.
Sometimes the words of the question might stay the same, but the numerical values might change. For example the 50.0 miles per hour in the question above might be switched to 55.0 miles per hour, so you might try a search for only the text part in double quotes.
For example, (with double quotes): "How long does it take for a car traveling at a speed of" "miles per hour to travel"
Free Help - you get what you pay for.
There are also many Q & A services on the internet that will do your homework for you. There are some free services that will help you with a few questions, but if you have a lot of questions, you will have a tough time finding someone to "help" you through them all for free. One service for quick answers is answers.yahoo.com. Most of the people who answer questions there are trying to help you to learn and will not just do your homework for you! And there is no guarantee you'll get the right answer to your homework question.
How to copy homework questions from your book or website and email them to a tutor:
It is a real pain just typing your questions to email them to a tutor, and if there are a lot of mathematical formulas and/or diagrams, this is next to impossible!
Instead what you should do is scan your questions, saving them as a pdf or jpg file (and perhaps insert the jpg files into MS Word). If you don't have a scanner, your school might have one in the computer center. Or you could try a copy shop like Kinko's or something (although Kinko's is overpriced and if you can find a small independent copy shop you'll likely get a better deal). Save your file as a pdf or jpg, but make sure the file isn't too large. 250 to 300 kb per each graphic should be fine. Emails don't usually handle file sizes of more than 4 or 5 megabytes.
If your homework is online you can either use "copy and paste" or a screen capture. See details here for screen captures: Copying Questions for Homework Help. Screen capture is often the preferred method because if your website questions have a lot of graphics, "copy and paste" will not work because Microsoft just hasn't figured out how to copy a webpage into MS Word so that all the graphics get included. Also copying any tables from a website and pasting them into MS Word typically eats up computer memory like mad. So to keep an information in your question from being lost (like graphics getting dropped when you do a cut and paste) and to make sure MS Word doesn't get hung up on the tables, doing a screen capture is often your best bet!
Screen capture not working?
If this is the case it's likely that the online class website designers know how to block this command. However there are screen capture programs made that can override this. It's a lot of trouble, but there it is. You just have to know how to outsmart the computer. The quick and easy way around this is to take a picture with your phone.
Using a Secure Browser?
If your school makes you use a secure browser (Like Respondus Lockdown Browser) when doing your online work so that you cannot Google or email or chat with a tutor, then you might need to use a 2nd computer. You might be able to take a picture of the exam questions on your computer with a camera and then text or email the pictures to a tutor.
Cheating at online classes:
If your class is one of those that are entirely online -- even the exams!-- from your own home, then cheating is easy! Some students give out their login names and passwords to tutors or homework help services and ask them to take the class for them. I don't recommend this!!! In fact I've known students to be ripped off by these homework help services and if the student tries to get their money back, the "tutor" threatens to tell the student's university! Also, if a website administrator sees that the login IP address came from India or even from a state or province far from where you live, you can get caught! I've never heard of this happening, but it's possible. What I would recommend is that you login from your computer and send the questions to a tutor through email or instant messenger. This takes a little more time, but is a bit safer.
You can also use Skype or other programs so that you log in, but the tutor does the work. This is the SAFE WAY to do it!
If you do decide to pay someone to log in for you and complete your class, only pay a little bit as you go... DO NOT PAY THE ENTIRE SUM TO ANY TUTOR OR HOMEWORK HELP SERVICE!!... unless you just like getting ripped off. In fact, I know of a student who paid a very large sum to a tutor, only the tutor did not do the work and when the student asked for his money back, the "tutor" said he would tell the student's school if the student tried to get his money back. Also, credit card companies usually do not refund for services not rendered, they only do that for goods (like not getting something your ordered in the mail.)
Be smart and know the tutor you are dealing with -- call them, speak to them.
If you need help from me, my number is 918-850-5925 (Tulsa, OK) and my name is David Roth. I prefer text b/c I am often with a client.