Getting Started: Help Students with WebAssign

help students
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Even if you’ve used WebAssign for your past courses, you’ll still have students each semester that need help getting started with the platform. To support you, we asked instructor and Faculty Partner Katie Culler from Surry Community College to share her tips and tricks to help students succeed in WebAssign.

Keep reading for 6 peer tips from Katie Culler to make sure your students start strong this semester in WebAssign.

1) Require WebAssign for a Portion of Students’ Grades to Enhance Usage

Students are less likely to use WebAssign and realize its benefits unless it’s a required part of their grade. I assign WebAssign for at least 10% of a student’s overall grade, but best practices recommend around 20% to encourage them to use the platform effectively. This makes their WebAssign average worth the same percentage as a test.  I emphasize that this is an opportunity to maximize their grade because they get multiple attempts on every question.  Who wouldn’t want to have a 100% test grade in their grade book?

 2) Use the Syllabus and/or In-Class Time to Help Students Log In

Make sure all login instructions including the link to WebAssign, class key, purchase options and supporting training materials are included in the syllabus. Then, ask your students to be ready to sign into the platform during class time. You can even do this in a virtual course on video conferencing. This allows you to troubleshoot any issues with them while they’re with you on their own computer. If your course isn’t LMS-integrated, make sure students have their access code readily available.

Pro Tip: Find more tips for creating a powerful syllabus here and be sure to highlight Cengage Unlimited if it’s available for your title, to support students concerned about cost.

3) Explain the Benefits of WebAssign to Your Students

If students don’t understand why they should use WebAssign, they may not realize the ways it can support their success in your course. I tell my students that it provides an environment to practice the skills we learn together in class with different tools to help them better understand the content.  The quick and easy access to the eBook and videos within the assignments themselves also allow the students to troubleshoot specific questions on their own.

Pro Tip: Share this video with your students for their peers’ perspective on WebAssign.

4) Show Students Key Features to Enhance Success

Make sure students are aware of the practice materials and course support within WebAssign to encourage independent learning and improve their overall performance. I show students the key features outlined below, which are all accessible on the home page of the new student interface. You can also link to this quick video in your syllabus as a way to introduce students to WebAssign so you don’t have to!

  • eTextbooks: Show students how to find them on their homepage as well as how they can bookmark, highlight, and print the books.
  • My Class Insights: Use student view to show students how to get to Class Insights and highlight how they can use it to review their past assignments or practice a topic.
  • Personal Study Plan (PSP): If the PSP is available for your text, enable it and show your students where to find it.
  • Extra Resources: Show students the extra resources available such as the videos and practice quizzes.
  • Communication Tools: Show them how to request an extension or send you a question through Ask My Teacher.
  • Notification Settings: I show them the notifications settings and show them that they can get reminders about when their assignments are due.

5) Assign the Getting Started Assignment To Show Students How to Use WebAssign

Schedule the Getting Started with WebAssign assignment during the first week of class to make sure students understand how to use the platform. The Getting Started with WebAssign assignments are available and personalized for all major disciplines to show students the types of questions they’ll encounter in WebAssign and how to answer them effectively. You can find the Getting Started Assignment in Course Packs or by searching the assignment ID for your course.

6) Address Technical Difficulties Early

I strongly encourage my students to reach out to me if they have any issue within WebAssign so that we can troubleshoot early. By asking students to log into WebAssign during class time, I’m able to address tech challenges in class and prevent them in the future.  I also allow more extensions at the beginning of the semester while students get used to the platform to troubleshoot any challenges.  Students seem to feel much better when they know you are willing to work with them as long as they are trying.  I remind them that I am a resource for their learning.

Pro Tip: Share the Tech Check link with students so they have a real-time view of any technical difficulties WebAssign may be experiencing.

Need a Quick Reference Instead?

If you don’t have class time to cover these topics with your students and would still like to help students succeed in WebAssign, copy the following links into your syllabus as an introduction to WebAssign.