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Examining The Impact of Collaborative Homework On Student Performance In An Engineering Materials Course
Previous studies have shown the usefulness of interactive collaborative methods for building engagement and improving comprehension of course material. While the authors regularly utilized out-of-class group projects and in-class group exercises for freshmen and seniors, the collaborative approach was extended to homework assignments for the first time. This study was conducted in three sections of a junior level engineering materials course within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and taught by two different faculty. This particular course was selected because much of the material built on concepts that the students had last used in coursework two years prior. Additionally, as this course emphasized concepts but not calculations, it lent itself to group discussion and analysis as a means for bolstering comprehension. Groups of 3-4 students formed and then worked collaboratively on each homework assignment, verifying that all members of the group understood and could independently execute all problems. For each assignment although the problems were completed cooperatively, each student submitted his/her own work. Only one student’s work was graded for each problem, but the entire group received that student’s score for that problem. Multiple student surveys were administered throughout the semester to evaluate perception of utility and benefits of this group homework. The results presented consist of the results of the student surveys as well as assignment grades from the piloted group homework semester and the previous semester with standard individual homework.