Guest Contributor: Maureen O’Connor DuPont, California State University San Marcos.

One of the biggest challenges that I see my students face is their inability to manage their time well. I teach predominantly remedial Math courses (Pre-Algebra, and Beginning Algebra) at both the local Community College and at California State University San Marcos. The average class size is 45 to 50 students. While most are incoming freshmen, my class population also consists of re-entry students who are trying to get back on track and either start a degree or to complete one that they may have abandoned years ago. So whether it is juggling 15 or 18 units or working while going to school and taking care of a family as well, both groups value their time and like to make the best of all of the free time they have in a day.

I was looking for a way to help them stop procrastinating when it came to homework assignments. I realized that an online homework solution that helped me create assignments and monitor student progress more efficiently, while offering students useful tools and immediate feedback, could help motivate them to complete their assignments. For my courses, Enhanced WebAssign offered the functionality I needed. I can keep tabs on who is doing their homework days before it is due, and then intervene if necessary.

When creating my own personal settings for my homework template in WebAssign, I choose to use the Automatic Point Adjustment category, setting it so that the students will receive a 2% point bonus for all answers that are correctly submitted more than 48 hours before the due date and time. Two percent is truly not a large numeric amount and it will not really alter someone’s grade, but it allows me to see who puts things off to the last moment.

Looking at my grade book in WebAssign, I can immediately see that those who do their homework assignments within a couple of days of the lecture fare better in the class and overall they achieve a better course grade. Their recorded scores contain decimals and not just whole number values! It is one of the best early alert systems I’ve seen. I can intervene when students start to slip, right from the very beginning of the semester and then have a discussion with them about managing their time, not taking on too much, beginning their assignments days before they are actually due.

If I can get a student to see that procrastination will really hurt them in the long run, and get them to take even small steps to chunk out their assignments and work on them in segments (and EWA allows students to work on any part and then come back to it later on), then they will be able to come to the next lecture better prepared for the new material which is usually based on the previous topics. This leads to increased class participation and discussions, better scores on pop quizzes, and better prepares the student for the mid-terms and ultimately the final exam.

 

Maureen O’Connor DuPont is the Math Lab Director at California State University San Marcos and part-time Mathematics Professor at CSUSM & Palomar College, both located in North San Diego County, CA. She is also the incoming treasurer for CRLA, the College Reading and Learning Assistance an international organization that certifies learning centers and past-president of the Association of Colleges for Tutoring & Learning Assistance (ACTLA). She is a Technology Power User for Cengage Learning.  

Want to learn more about the value that Maureen and her students have gained from Enhanced WebAssign? Read her Enhanced WebAssign success story and discover how she used EWA to provide students with immediate feedback on their work, increase their engagement with the topics they’re studying, and ultimately see a positive impact on her students’ homework grades.

 

How do you motivate students beyond procrastination? Share your ideas in the comments section below.