Homework: To Require or Not? Online Graded Homework and Student Achievement

Tisha L. N. Emerson and Kimberly D. Mencken
    The recent development in economics of online automated graded homework products (e.g. Aplia) has significantly reduced the cost to instructors of assigning and grading homework. Using a quasi-experimental approach, we investigate the effect that online graded homework has on student achievement (as measured by the Test of Understanding in College Economics, final course grades, and performance on the departmental final exam). Students are “randomly” placed in one of four microeconomics principles classes taught by the principal investigators in the study. All students are required to purchase the Aplia homework product and were assigned weekly homework, but final course grades for students in only two of the study sections include a homework component. The remaining two sections serve as the control group. We find that those students who are assigned required homework through an automated homework system experienced significantly higher achievement as measured by performance on a common portion of the final exam and their course letter grade than those in the control group. There was no significant effect of the treatment when achievement is measured by performance on the TUCE. (JEL A22)

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