Using final exams as an incentive to increase student motivation toward homework


A study is presented to determine whether student motivation to do homework in a course can be significantly increased using the final exam as an incentive. Traditionally students are encouraged by an instructor to do homework problems in a course as a means to enhance mastery of course topics. Homework assignments are a common method used to help students prepare for course exams. Instructors typically prepare exams to adequately assess how well students understand course topics. These exam problems may be similar to homework problems, but are typically varied sufficiently to test for conceptual understanding rather than simply recitation of solutions. In this study, all of the course mid-term exams are prepared using the traditional methodology. The final exams, however, consist of multiple choice questions which are taken directly from the assigned homework problems with only the numerical values changed. Two introductory mechanical engineering courses, dynamics and thermodynamics were selected for this study which involved classes at a large public university. During one semester, a control group was established for each course, followed by a study group the next semester. Differences in the incoming grade point averages of the two groups were not statistically significant. Students were assigned homework problems and encouraged to work them in preparation for all of the course exams. The control group was unaware that the final exam problems would be drawn from the assigned homework problems. However, students in the study group were informed during the first week of the semester that exam problems would be drawn from the homework problems. The final exams administered to both groups were identical. The performance of students on the final exam in the control group and study group were compared. Differences in the performances of the two groups will be discussed along with implications of the differences. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.

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ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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