We’ve been collecting best practices and tips from instructors for many years. Below are our suggestions to maximize your WebAssign experience, but please realize that due to the flexible nature of this product your classroom setup could differ from this list depending on your teaching goals.
- Enable Answer Format Tips so students can see the type of answer expected for each question (formula, numeric value, text).
- Allow students several submissions for homework. You might need to experiment to determine the right number of submissions for your class.
- Too many submissions and students guess at the answer. Eliminate this problem by decreasing the credit available by 25% to 35% after each submission.
- Too few submissions limit the opportunity for students to learn from their mistakes and can cause frustration.
- Use a variety of assignment categories, for example:
- Practice assignments with multiple allowable submissions and Practice Another Version enabled
- Homework with Practice Another Version enabled after final submission of the assignment
- Timed reading assignments to check comprehension
- Timed take-home quizzes with only one submission allowed and Practice Another Version enabled after the due date
- Proctored tests (timed, located-limited, and password protected)
- Use assignment templates to apply consistent settings for all of your assignments of the same type. WebAssign provides several assignment templates that you can use, or you can create your own templates.
- Schedule frequent short assignments.
- Set the due date to one hour before the class meets.
- Encourage students to finish assignments by enabling automatic extensions with a penalty (20% or 25%).
- Offer manual extensions for students who need more time due to illness or other legitimate reasons. Decide on the penalty, if any, on a case-by-case basis.
Communicating With Your Students
- Turn on email notifications so Ask Your Teacher and Extension Requests are automatically delivered to your inbox.
- Use the Announcement feature to keep your students apprised of the course syllabus, class changes, and notices.
- Remind students that they can get email notification of upcoming assignments or new announcements by clicking Notifications on their home page.
- Enable student forums so classmates can discuss assignments and learn from each other. Instead of answering a student’s question individually, post the question to the forum and let others comment. Provide clarification and direction as needed, and occasionally answer a question directly so students know that you are monitoring the forum.
Using the GradeBook
- At the end of the first week of class, set up the GradeBook and allow students to see their own scores and how they compare to the class. Many instructors find this approach motivates students to keep up.
- Several times during the term, sort the GradeBook by assignment scores and send email messages to students at the bottom of the class encouraging them to come to you for extra help.
Using Media in WebAssign
- Keep media files as brief as possible.
- Except for recorded lectures, most videos should ideally run 3 minutes or less in order to keep your students’ attention. Consider editing longer materials into multiple shorter segments.
- Keep video size or resolution no greater than is needed.
- Although you want to ensure that your students can clearly see the subject matter, higher resolutions generally result in larger videos that download more slowly. If you need to use a high-definition video, consider linking to it instead of embedding it.
- Don’t include videos or media in the assignment description, but only the instructions.
- Embedded media in the assignment description is shown on the student’s My Assignments page. This is rarely useful, and can cause the My Assignments page to load slowly.
- Don’t show more than one video on the page at a time.
- When using video or audio clips in your questions, change your assignment settings to show only one question at a time.
- Embed at most one video in each question, announcement, or assignment instructions. If more than one video is needed, consider creating multiple questions, announcements, or assignments.
- Be aware that when you share media with your students, they might be able to share it again with their peers.
Other Best Practices
- After the first two or three weeks of class, poll your students and ask them which three things they like best about the class and which three things they would like you to change. Share the results with the entire class using the Summary link in the Assignment Scores view. Many times there are conflicting ideas about how to improve the class!
- Upload your own materials to the Resources section and make them available to your students. Students often learn more from materials you develop, including, PowerPoint slides, videos, and lectures notes, than from the textbook alone.