Web-Based Automatic Feedback on Assignments in Statistics : How Can it Help Students Learn Statistics and Universities Reduce Costs?


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Series/Report no

International Journal of Engineering Education;26 (3)


Tempus Publications

Document type


A non-experimental study in 2005 suggested that immediate, automatic feedback on assignments helped to increase study motivation as well as pass rate among engineering students attending an introductory course in statistics at Oslo University College. In the follow-up study reported here we used an experimental design assigning the participants randomly to one of two experimental conditions: The ‘web-supported’ students received immediate, automatic feedback after having entered their responses to the assignments electronically. The ‘paper-supported’ students received written feedback on their paper-based submissions several days later. The findings contradicted the results of the non-experimental study: no significant differences between the groups were found with regard to final examination grades, study effort (with a certain qualification) and preferences with regard to the method for submitting answers. Running tutoring costs, however, were much lower for the web-supported than for the paper-supported students.Therefore, the present methodologically improved study strengthens the evidence that such learning support may help reduce running tutoring costs without significantly lowering final examination grades. Reinforcing this conclusion, certain remaining weaknesses in the experimental procedure open the possibility that the final examination grades of the paper-supported students have been inflated relative to those of the web-supported students. Moreover, questionnaire data and informal observations obtained during this experiment suggest that the tested web-based system of learning support can be combined with more traditional ways of promoting learning that may help increase learning with only a small increase in tutoring costs. These challenges with regard to the test methodology and the design of the learning-support system need to be addressed in new experiments. Keywords: web-supported learning; automatic feedback; immediate feedback; tutoring costs; statistics


Permanent URL (for citation purposes)

  • http://hdl.handle.net/10642/371