Writing abstracts of homework problem solutions: Implementation and assessment in a material balances course

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper describes a one-semester experiment intended to assess the effect of requiring students to write abstracts for homework problems. The literature contains examples in which use of reflective writing assignments led to improved achievement of student outcomes. In this case, it was hypothesized that requiring students to write abstracts for homework problem solutions would help students to see connections between concepts and develop a methodical procedure for solving problems. Two sections of the course were taught at Rowan University in the Fall 2013 semester, allowing the authors to conduct a control experiment. Students in both sections of the course were assigned the same weekly homework assignments, consisting of problems assigned from the course textbook. Students in both sections completed these assignments in teams of three, and they submitted one solution per team. In addition, in the "experimental" section, each individual student was required to write an abstract for one problem from each homework assignment. The abstract summarized the purpose of the problem, the physical system under consideration, the known and unknown information and the solution procedure. The experimental and control sections took identical tests under identical conditions, and each problem was graded by the same instructor for both sections. There was no evidence that writing abstracts was beneficial to the students in attaining the instructional objectives; the control group scored at least as high as the experimental group on all exams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014

Other

Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN
Period6/15/146/18/14

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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