Strategies for using on-line practice problems

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


PathFinder is an active website coded in html,, c#, JavaScript, xml, and MathML. The website assembles ebooks on the fly from an xml database. The ebooks have randomly selected and generated exercises that are automatically graded. Instantaneous feedback is provided to both students and teachers regarding performance on online exercises. PathFinder is used to deliver an ebook to a first year introductory engineering course at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, USA. In Fall 2013, 12 sections of 20 - 25 students each used the Pathfinder ebook. Because PathFinder provides online practice problems that students can work before completing scored problems, this large implementation of the PathFinder ebook provides an opportunity to investigate the effectiveness of online practice problems. Practice problems can be "Similar" or "Related" to the student's scored problem. Four sets of four problems each were used to investigate four scenarios. Scenarios were randomly applied such that each student was exposed to all four, but on different problem sets. In all scenarios the fourth problem had no practice problem, so it could be used as a test of the effectiveness of the practice problems provided for the first three problems. In the first scenario, no practice problems were provided. In the second, three similar practice problems were provided. In the third, three related practice problems were provided. In the fourth, the first problem had a similar, the second a related, and the third no practice problem. Over 50 % of the students attempted at least one practice problem. Completing practice problems was associated with better scores on associated scored problems. The four scenarios did not result in different performance on their fourth problems, the ones without practice options. It appears that the first three scored problems provided sufficient skill acquisition. In essence, the first three scored problems were "practice" for the fourth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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