466827 Spreadsheet Template to Aid in Creating Individualized Version of Objective Homework Problems

Monday, November 14, 2016: 8:55 AM
Continental 3 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
John Wagner and Amanda P. Malefyt, McKetta Department of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering, Trine University, Angola, IN

Individualized homework problems ensure that each student has at least a minimal level of understanding and problem solving ability. Online programs have been developed that provide individualized problems with guided feedback. However, these services are not available for all courses, generally come at an extra cost and may tend to isolate students, losing the beneficial aspects of group collaboration. The proposed approach strikes a balance between group collaboration and individual accountability and retains the instructor’s ability to create novel homework problems.

An Excel spreadsheet template has been developed to aid instructors in developing individualized versions of problem statements. The template’s functions and macros make it relatively easy to develop individualized versions of problems. The spreadsheet is also flexible enough to accommodate different types of objective questions. The problem developer decides which variables to alter and the range of those variables. The program then generates 200 random sets of data for those variables. These sets are then utilized in creating the student’s version of the problem in the form of a separate spreadsheet. Therefore, each student receives a homework problem that is similar in structure but different in details from the other students.

The student version contains the problem’s statement and a place for the student to respond. After submitting their responses, the student receives immediate, right or wrong, feedback. Multiple submissions can be made up to a pre-set limit. Once the limit is reached, the problem is set to base-case conditions and the student is provided with detailed feedback for the base-case problem. The student can then repeat the problem with a new set of variables.

The template was used to create dozens of problems that were integrated into the homework assignments for an “off-semester” Material Balances course with eight students in the spring semester of 2016. The students both preferred (4.5/5.0) and thought they learned more (4.5/5.0) from the spreadsheet based problems over the traditional homework problems. The spreadsheet problems will be utilized in the fall 2016 Material Balance class at Trine University and compared to similar instructor generated and traditional textbook problems.

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