ON-LINE HOMEWORK AND ASSESSMENT ENHANCES STUDENT LEARNING IN GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES
We have used the system for 5 years in oceanography, physical, structural, and environmental geology. Assignments range from simple reading tests and vocabulary drill to complex problem-solving such as interpreting geologic history from photos of rocks, outcrops, or landforms. The oceanography course is a self-paced reading course with unproctored on-line reading comprehension tests; the physical and environmental geology courses are large lecture format with homework assignments to be completed at student convenience; unit exams are given in a proctored computer lab. Because geoscience is a highly visual discipline, our test banks are rich in images and diagrams to allow students to learn both verbally and visually.
Analysis of student attitude surveys and performance data indicates that students respond positively to on-line assessment and that number of repeat engagements with assignments correlates with better performance on assignments as well as in the course. Students tend to attempt assignments more times when unlimited attempts are allowed, retaking them until satisfied with their performance. Many students use textbook or notes while working homework assignments. These data support the idea that repeated engagement with the subject matter benefits both short- and long-term student learning.