Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department:

Engineering and Technology Education

Advisor/Chair:

Kurt Becker

Abstract

This study compared the effectiveness, in terms of mathematical achievement and mathematics self-efficacy, of online homework to textbook homework over an entire semester for 145 students enrolled in multiple sections of college algebra at a large community college. A quasi-experimental, posttest design was used to analyze the effect on mathematical achievement, as measured by a final exam. A pretest-posttest design was used to analyze the effect on mathematics self-efficacy, as measured by the Mathematics Self-efficacy Scale. The control group completed their homework using the textbook and the treatment group completed similar homework using an online homework system developed by the textbook publisher. All class sections followed a common syllabus, schedule, and homework list and completed a common, departmental final exam. Classroom observations were also used as a way to establish the similarity between groups.

The results of the study found that while the treatment group generally scored higher on the final exam, no significant difference existed between the mathematical achievement of the control and treatment groups. Both the control and treatment group did experience significant improvements in their mathematics self-efficacy, but neither group demonstrated more improvement than the other. When students were divided based on incoming math skill level, analysis showed that low-skilled students who used online homework exhibited significantly higher mathematical achievement than low-skilled students who used textbook homework. Exploratory analysis also showed that more students with low incoming skill levels and more repeating students received a passing grade when using online homework than did their higher-skilled, first-time counterparts, although the differences were not significant.

Based on this study it appears as if online homework is just as effective as textbook homework in helping students learn college algebra and in improving students' mathematics self-efficacy. Online homework may be even more effective for helping the large population of college algebra students who enroll in the course with inadequate prerequisite math skills. Instructors and researchers should consider the possibility that online homework can successfully help certain populations of students develop understanding better than traditional approaches. This study has implications for mathematics instructors and for online homework system developers.

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