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Topic: [MATHEDU] Humanities and Math
Replies: 7   Last Post: Jan 16, 1998 2:57 AM

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Murphy Waggoner

Posts: 52
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: [MATHEDU] Humanities and Math
Posted: Dec 11, 1997 5:32 PM
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>> Bill Wardlaw wrote:
Douglas Shaw writes:

>I believe we've shown that students (engineering-oriented students
>anyway) aren't turned off by work per-se, they are just turned off by
>having their time wasted. Attendence figures also back up this statement.

I concur. About 5 years ago I remember getting some evaluations from
students saying that some of the homework I assigned was busy work and
wasted their time. I started paying more attention to what problems I
chose for homework, but I also changed my policy about homework. Each
student makes a contract with me about how much of the homework they have
to do (the choices are all of the homework, half of the homework (a
specific subset of the homework assignment), or no homework). They can
change their contract three times during the semester (after each exam). I
also assign practice problems (odd numbered problems that have answers in
the back of the book) that are not taken up.

If a student chooses to do less homework, their exams count for more of
their grade. But the homework portion of the grade is not a large
percentage (approximately 10% of the total grade).

I have been using this policy for four years now and I was surprised with
the results. Practically all of my students choose to do all the homework.
Maybe one student from each class chooses to do none of the homework and
maybe 2 or 3 choose to do half of the homework. Rarely does a student
change the amount of homework during the semester (i.e., if they choose to
do all the homework for the first test, they will do all the homework all
semester long).

I ask the students on occasion why they choose to do all the homework.
Most have the right attitude (that it will help their grade to practice on
a regular basis), but some do it only because they perceive a grade buffer
because 10% of the grade is for homework.

More importantly, students seem to have a different attitude toward
homework now. It is not something they have to do to pass the course, it
is something they choose to do to pass the course.

M. E. "Murphy" Waggoner
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Simpson College
Simpson College Chapter, Habitat for Humanity
Faculty Advisor
"For a community to be whole and healthy,
it must be based on people's love and
concern for each other." -- M. Fuller

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