PathFinder: Online textbooks with randomly generated assignments, with potential for cooperative creation

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


PathFinder is a developing online entity that will ultimately combine aspects of on-line referred encyclopedia, online-textbook creator, and online exercise generator/administrator/scorer. It is written in html, 2, C#, JavaScript, xml, and mathML. Content is stored modularly in txt and xml files. Current content includes units, variables, equations, images, definitions, articles, examples, exercises, etc. The modular nature of the storage allows content to be efficiently used, reused, rearranged, reordered, and improved. PathFinder has been used in three different courses in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Rowan University: Civil Engineering Systems (CES, Fall 2008 and 2009), Environmental Engineering I (Spring 2009), and Freshman Clinic I (Fall 09). In each course PathFinder was used to administer multiple choice and calculation exercises. Multiple choice exercises made up Preparation Assessment Tests (PATs), used to get students to read course materials before covering them in class. Calculation exercises were used as homework (HW) to provide students with practice related to the methods introduced by the course. PathFinder was also used to deliver an e-textbook in CES. Evaluations of PathFinder can be based on keystroke activity recorded as students use PathFinder, scores on PATs and HW, scores on tests, and surveys of students. The purpose of this paper is to describe PathFinder and present the results of evaluations of textbook and exercise features used in Civil Engineering Systems in Fall 2008 and 2009. Fall 2008 results indicate that there is little difference between PathFinder and traditional assignments regarding grade outcomes. Results of student evaluations from Fall 2009 indicate that students are favorably disposed toward PathFinder. PathFinder saves class times by allowing PATs to be complete outside of class. It saves instructor time by scoring PATs and HW automatically. copying opportunities are reduced because each student is assigned different problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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