Recent Evolution and Status of Online Homework Systems for Teaching Introductory Astronomy


  • Timothy F. Slater University of Wyoming/CAPER Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research


Internet-delivered, automatically-graded, online homework systems are becoming ever easier for college science teaching faculty to adopt and integrate into existing learning management systems. In this sense, online homework systems have great potential to extend the amount of time on task students allocate to learning astronomy without overburdening already overextended, busy professors. At the same time, the systematic education research surrounding the use of online homework systems is less conclusive, with both benefits and disadvantages being reported in the literature. Moreover, some student advocates lament the financial burden to students and the negative optics about instructors’ commitments to teaching. In the end, an ASTRO101 professor’s decisions about whether or not to adopt online homework systems are complex and insufficiently supported by compelling education research data and by and large depend heavily on both a professor’s teaching philosophy and the academic context in which the students are learning.