Saturday, September 7, 2013
Research: Homework completion improves grades
Students may think that arriving at East Carolina University means escaping from parents and constant reminders to “Do your homework!” However, those out-of-class exercises could affect college students’ academic success — at least if they are studying economics.
Department of Economics professor Nick Rupp, who counts education tactics among his research interests, recently published the results of a study in which he found that doing homework assignments leads to higher test grades.
“There’s always been anecdotal evidence,” Rupp said, “but I wanted to explore it scientifically.”
After students in multiple sections of his principles of microeconomics class consented to participate in his study, Rupp handed out two different syllabi to participants. One group of students was required to do homework and turn it in to be graded. Those assignments accounted for 10 percent of their final grade. For a second group, homework was optional, so test scores made up 100 percent of their grades.
Individual students were assigned to the groups via a simple exercise: a coin flip.
“The classroom had kind of a football crowd mentality (on the day of the coin flip),” Rupp said. He said that those who landed in the homework-optional group initially were overjoyed.
But in the end, it was the students required to do homework who were cheering. They performed a half-letter grade better, on average, than those who did not have to complete homework assignments.
Rupp observed that there were A-students in both groups — those who would do their homework whether or not it was required. The biggest difference was for students who initially performed poorly in the course. More Bs than Cs were earned by the group required to do homework, he said. Homework completion also could cause students to pass a course they were otherwise on the brink of failing.
It was not because the homework grades helped them, but because they were learning more before the test.
“The perception is that homework is easy points,” Rupp said. “But the test average (grade) was higher than the homework average.”
No students’ grades suffered due to participation in the study, Rupp said. The add/drop rate for the class was no different than others he has taught. And every student did have access to the homework and the option to complete it and have it graded.
However, he also observed that those students not required to do the homework would often wait until just before the test to complete all the exercises. They were “cramming,” he said, and it did not pay off. Those students did not get feedback to know what they might have done wrong and what to study before testing.
Assigning homework does mean more work for one other party — those teaching college classes. Rupp said that his research indicates that two-thirds of professors at the seven largest campuses in the UNC system assign homework, but another third does not.
“This is a joint message — about the importance of doing homework — to both the students and the educators,” Rupp said. “There is more work but if you care about student performance and keeping students in your class … it does pay dividends.”
Rupp plans to conduct a similar study involving homework in chemistry classes to see if his findings can be applied to other academic subjects.
“The Role of Homework in Student Learning Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment” was published in The Journal of Economic Education. ECU associate professor Andrew Grodner, also of the Department of Economics, co-authored the article.
Grants aid breast cancer care for Pitt County women
Two ECU projects to promote women’s health have received grants from the Susan G. Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast Affiliate.
“The Pitt County Breast Wellness Initiative” and “Bridging the Gaps in Breast Cancer Treatment in Pitt County” aim to provide screening, diagnostic and treatment services while streamlining care and supplementing costs for breast cancer patients. The projects are led by the Brody School of Medicine’s Dr. Kathryn Verbanac, a scientist and professor of surgery, and Dr. Nasreen Vohra, a surgical oncologist and assistant professor of surgery.
The projects are funded with a pair of grants totaling $85,295.
The goal of the Pitt County Breast Wellness Initiative is to increase access to breast cancer screening and diagnosis services for women in Pitt County, targeting uninsured and underinsured women as well as black women and women at high risk for breast cancer. The project works with local partners to assess women’s breast health needs and breast cancer risk, link women with existing assistance programs and provide funding for screening when existing resources fall short.
The Bridging the Gaps in Breast Cancer Treatment program will assist patients in Pitt County with treatment-related needs. Breast cancer patients who meet certain guidelines may obtain financial assistance for co-payments, chemotherapy, required follow-up tests, rehabilitative therapy, lymphedema treatments and transportation.
Community health statistics from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, indicate that more than 40 percent of eligible women in Pitt County have not had a mammogram in the past year. Minority women in Pitt County have higher rates of advanced breast disease compared to white women (6.7 vs. 2.7 percent of cases) and the highest breast cancer mortality rate within the affiliate service area (42.4 per 100,000).
These community health grants represent a partnership between ECU and Vidant Medical Center through the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center.
For more information about these programs, call Virginia Jackson at 744-5267.
College of Education awards scholarships to 95 students
ECU’s College of Education presented approximately $260,000 in scholarship awards to 95 students during the scholarship recognition and donor appreciation ceremony on Aug. 23 at Rock Springs Center in Greenville.
The scholarships and awards ranged from $250 to $20,000 each and were granted to students enrolled in the College of Education for the 2013-14 academic year. Private donations fund the scholarships, created to honor and memorialize outstanding educators and the education profession in order to support the academic pursuits of future education professionals.
Chancellor Steve Ballard and Provost Marilyn Sheerer assisted Dean Linda Patriarca in recognizing the donors and accomplished students. Approximately 300 people attended the ceremony and reception, including scholarship recipients, their guests, scholarship donors, board members, volunteers, faculty and staff.
via The Daily Reflector.