Student Earnestness in Online Circuit Analysis Textbook When Answer Is Available

Published American Society for Engineering Education, 2023


Mohsen Sarraf
University of New Haven

Prof. Mark Atkins
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis

Ms. Jenny Welter
zyBooks, A Wiley Brand

Yasaman Adibi
zyBooks, A Wiley Brand

Dr. Nikitha Sambamurthy
zyBooks, A Wiley Brand

Ms. Lauren Fogg
zyBooks, A Wiley Brand

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Engineering courses increasingly use online learning materials, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth in online classes. Online textbooks often have interactive components such as different types of quiz questions which may allow students to reveal the answer when stuck. These interactive components attempt to engage students in the reading material and course content.

But how do students actually engage when question answers are available with a click? Do students attempt to answer the question before revealing the answer? Or do students skip attempting the question and jump immediately to reveal the answer?

This paper aims to quantify the “earnestness” of student behavior in an online, interactive circuit analysis textbook over a period of one year. We measure student earnestness by looking at the percentage of students revealing answers prior to making a solution attempt. Thus, earnestness can indicate student engagement with the learning material.

We investigate how student earnestness correlates with length of time in the course (as defined by progression through chapters), length of time in a chapter (as defined by progression through the sections in a chapter), class size, question difficulty, number of questions in the exercise, and length of the textbook section or assignment.

The results show better student performance and/or more earnestness on questions with certain parameters. We compare the results to earlier investigations in similar interactive computer science books. Through this research, we aim to improve our understanding of how students engage with interactive learning materials, and what factors correlate with differing levels of student engagement, to inform more effective future development of interactive textbooks.

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