Myths, Realities, and Student Views
Department of Chemical Engineering
of this Document
is familiar with homework. By the time students arrive at college,
they have adopted certain attitudes about homework and certain approaches
to doing it. Unfortunately, these attitudes and approaches are likely
to be carry-overs from high school or even earlier academic experiences
when homework had a different nature and purpose.
document discusses some myths surrounding homework as well as the
realities (benefits that can be derived from diligently working
homework according to prescribed methods). Lastly, there is a section
of comments contributed by chemical engineering students about their
changing attitudes about homework.
is also a section discussing academic honesty since that issue frequently
needs to be considered when turning in homework.
of homework is simple. You do it because it's a fact of life. There's
always been homework. There always will be. (Too bad about that!)
are supposed to learn what you need to know by doing homework. (Hmmmm...
sounds pretty reasonable!)
should definitely be done and turned in for credit. After all, that's
the point of homework.(Too idealistic!)
probably should be done as soon as possible but as a practical matter,
you might have to do it right before class. (More realistic!)
really doesn't matter. How your homework looks really doesn't matter.
Whether you do the homework yourself or get help doing the homework
or copy someone else's homework really doesn't matter. (Now were
is not a single simple reason why faculty assign homework nor is
there a single benefit which can be derived from properly doing
homework. Homework may be a fact of life, but its true purpose and
benefits are often never realized by most students.
classroom is the place where much of the learning activity begins.
However, real understanding and the ability to apply what has been
learned is achieved when, outside the classroom and some time later,
students review the work introduced in class, test their understanding,
extend their reasoning, and summarize their thoughts or apply the
new information and techniques to solve problems. This additional
work comes under the heading of homework. Thus, the purpose
of homework is twofold: it involves the completion of work assigned
in class and also the systematic revision and learning of work previously
covered to demonstrate mastery and the ability to apply the knowledge
to new situations.
professions like the medical profession, students learn to apply
what they have learned in lecture by internships where they practice
and employ skills under the direct supervision of a doctor who evaluates
their performance. In engineering we do not generally have internships
but homework serves the purpose of bringing to the professor a sample
of your work to be evaluated. This points to one of the most overlooked
aspects of homework. Homework is a written communication of a technical
nature directed to a specific audience. The key concept is that
homework should be done in a fashion which will communicate information
to an informed audience for their evaluation.
should serve to help the student identify whether or not the material
germaine to the problem has been learned. This is quite contrary
to the fashion in which most students "do homework", namely
read the problem, and hunt around in the chapter until you find
an example or some theory which seems to "match up" to
the problem being worked and then kind of read around in that example
until you sort of see what equations to use and then pretty much
do the same thing. To get the benefit from doing homework which
will confirm and evaluation your learning the required skills and
techniques you should transfer the problem information to a new
blank sheet of paper and then, without the use of the book,
set up the solution of the problem. What is implied is that you
should already know what you need to know to do the homework
rather than rely on the homework teaching you what you are supposed
make the above a little more concrete, return to an earlier point
in your education where you were learning to perform the multiplication
of two and three digit numbers. If your homework problem was 345
x 173, the point was to see whether or not you had learned all the
one digit by one digit multiplication facts as well as how to align
and add the intermediate results. You didn't start at that point
to learn what 5 x 3 is (hopefully). You simply couldn't do the problem
if you didn't. And in engineering homework, the "message"
should be exactly the same. If you are sitting and staring at a
problem and don't know how to get started or have gotten started
but you are now "stuck" then you really shouldn't be doing
the homework yet, you should be learning the material. When
you can't do the homework without looking in the book, then you
haven't learned the material you should have and all the "matching
up" of problem wordings and equations doesn't teach you the
material, it only short circuits the learning process. One of the
most important skills is to self-evaluate your learning.
Homework provides you a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness
of your preparation for class, your in-class note-taking skills,
and your review of notes to master new material. If you can't do
the homework without looking in the book, there is a significant
failure at one or more of these points.
to the issue of "communications", when you first learn
to speak we speak as children do (without a great appreciate of
the richness of an adult vocabulary or the awareness of proper grammar).
Similiarly, when you first start to develop technical communications,
you will appear to an engineering audience as a "child"
if you have not yet mastered the "vocabulary" and "grammar"
of engineering. Engineers have a unique "style" of communicating
with other engineers which employs assumptions, problem basis, sketching
conventions, nomenclature, control volume designation, accuracy
and significant figure information, equation ordering and manipulation,
answer presentation, results interpretation, recommendations, references,
etc. Homework provides a valuable opportunity to "practice"
the grammar and develop the vocabulary. Your ability to organize
complex ideas, to intersperse mathematical notation and verbal explanations,
to show a solution methodology, to cite chemical and physical principles,
is only learned with much practice.
there other benefits to doing homework properly? Definitely. You
also learn independence, organization, and self-pacing. You learn
how to explore your own interests. You can follow-up on questions
which arise during solving a particular problem. You get practice
doing research, finding out facts, using resources, making judgements
. Doing homework is your opportunity to go beyond the minimum
of what is required.
The following comments about homework were provided by a recent CHEN2100
class. Specifically they were asked to comment on how their attitudes
about homework had changed as a result of taking CHEN2100.
attitudes toward homework have changed in this course in two
ways. Homework is no longer a time to just get things done,
but a time to show perfection of the skills. I care more about
the presentation of the work than I did before. Also I care
that I have the fundamental understanding of the issues covered.
Homework is a presentation to someone else of what knowledge
I have. Homework is also no longer a review session. I review
the work then try to do the assignment without books or any
other tools to help me. The homework is the tool I use to access
my knowledge of a skill and be sure that I have acquired the
a result of this class my feelings towards homework have swayed
a little bit. I have always used homework as a measuring stick
for how well I know the material that I am working on. If I
could do the problem without having to look back in the chapter,
then I was good. If I ever had to look back then that was a
sign that I needed to brush up. I also use homework in a different
sense after this summer. Now I also use it to set up a distinct
style or strategy for my problems. It gives me a chance to refine
certain rough spots that I have. This allows me to move faster
& get more points on a test. I never did this before now.
taking this course homework was something that I "had" to do
because it was part of my grade or counted as a participation
grade. Because of that, I viewed homework as a necessary evil
to earning my grade. After taking this course I realized that
homework has nothing to do with the teacher and everything to
do with me as a student. Homework is now used as a personal
test to see how well I understand the material and where my
taking this class I thought homework was ridiculous. All I would
do is take the assigned problems and compare them to example
problems in a test. This was a waste of my time and I knew it.
I wasn't benefiting myself by doing homework in this fashion.
Now, I know a proper way to do homework. First I must read the
book and learn how to do the material. After, I understand what
I am studying, then I can do homework, without the help of a
book or notes. I have done homework this way this summer, and
on at least one of my classes, it has helped tremendously. It
is like taking a practice exam before the test. This gives me
the opportunity to ask the instructor for help before exams.
before taking this class I did homework simply because I had
to. I did not see any other purpose of homework rather than
just do it because it was required. However, as a result of
both the lab and lecture classes of this course, my ideas and
views of homework have changed. I no longer do homework just
because the teacher assigns it, but because I truly want to
learn the material. The professor said several times that homework
is an opportunity for me to assess my mastery of a subject and
I completely agree. Homework gives me the opportunity to perfect
the tools that I learned in class; therefore, I fully understand
the material and can show the professor my understanding on
the test. Furthermore, I no longer rush through homework just
to get it done. I really take the time to understand what I
am doing and why. Homework is NOT busy work, but is there for
my benefit. As a result of this class, I have tried to make
it the biggest benefit possible to me. However, I am not completely
there yet. I still need to stay focused and maintain my improvements
on homework. I am very glad that I had this class tolead me
down the right path to improving my views and reasons for doing
attitudes toward homework have changed. I used to just listen
in class and then go home and try to do the homework immediately.
If I had trouble, I would look for the closest example and change
the numbers. I wasn't learning things as well this way. Now,
I try to get the most out of my homework as possible. I learn
the material and then do the problems. I have really applied
this idea to this class and I in turn don't really have to study
for the tests. I know when I get the test back, not only did
I get a good grade, but I understand the material. I am not
really even planning to study for the final, because I already
know all of the material. I now use homework as testing myself.
attitude toward homework has changed for the better. When I
used to do homework I would have in my mind that if I get good
grades on my homework then it can bring up my final grade in
the end. Now I look at homework in a totally different way.
I look at homework as a way to master my skills in solving problems
and learning the techniques to solving problems. This has really
helped me this semester because when I am doing my homework
I am learning the material and not having to study so hard for
the test when it comes up. I already have learned the techniques
& the right way to work the problems and I don't have to cram
for the test before hand. I believe that this outlook on homework
will help me all the way through the end of my college career.
|Practice Written Technical Communications
is an opportunity to practice the skill of written technical communication.
As such, it is important to develop a systematic and orderly approach
to solving problems and presenting the results. The neatness, clarity,
and legibility of your solution is important. It is not enough to
simply "do" the homework to get the credit the assignment
is worth. Any engineer familiar with the subject matter should be
able to understand and follow your solution methodology, not just
locate your final answer. It is your job to explain your thinking,
assumptions and interpretation whether or not someone actually reads
your homework. It will be helpful to think of one of homework's
purposes to be practice in the art of written technical communication.
|Retaining Graded Material
advised to keep on file all graded homework and other materials such
as exams in case there is a question about your course grade.
to articulate fully its commitment to academic honesty and to protect
members of its community from the results of dishonest conduct Auburn
University has adopted policies to deal with cases of academic dishonesty.
These policies are intended not only to emphasize the imperative
of integrity, but also to protect the rights of all members of the
university community. The complete academic regulations concerning
cheating are located in the Tiger Cub.
of Academic Dishonesty
is the inclusion of someone else's words, ideas, or data as one's
own work. When a student submits work for credit that includes the
words, ideas, or data of others, the source of that information
must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific references,
and, if verbatim statements are included, through quotation marks
as well. By placing his/her name on work submitted for credit, the
student certifies the originality of all work not otherwise identified
by appropriate acknowledgments. Plagiarism covers unpublished as
well as published sources.
of plagiarism include, but are not limited to: 1. Quoting another
person's actual words, complete sentences or paragraphs, or an entire
piece of written work without acknowledgment of the source; 2. Using
another person's ideas, opinions, or theory, even if it is completely
paraphrased in one's own words without acknowledgment of the source;
3. Borrowing facts, statistics, or other illustrative materials
that are not clearly common knowledge without acknowledgment of
the source; 4. Copying another student's essay test answers; 5.
Copying, or allowing another student to copy, a computer file that
contains another student's assignment, and submitting it, in part
or in its entirety, as one's own; or 6. Working together on an assignment,
sharing the computer files and programs involved, and then submitting
individual copies of the assignment as one's own individual work.
Students are urged to consult with individual faculty members, academic
departments, or recognized handbooks in their field if in doubt
regarding issues of plagiarism.
is the use of invented information or the falsification of research
or other findings.
include, but are not limited to: 1. Citation of information not
taken from the source indicated. This may include the incorrect
documentation of secondary source materials; 2. Listing sources
in a bibliography not used in the academic exercise; 3. Submission
in a paper, thesis, lab report, or other academic exercise of falsified,
invented, or fictitious data or evidence, or deliberate and knowing
concealment or distortion of the true nature, origin, or function
of such data or evidence; or 4. Submitting as your own any academic
exercises (e.g., written work, printing, sculpture, etc.) prepared
totally or in part by another.
is an act or an attempted act of deception by which a student seeks
to misrepresent that he or she has mastered information on an academic
exercise that he or she has not mastered. Examples include, but
are not limited to: 1. Copying from another student's test paper;
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use of course textbook or other materials such as a notebook to
complete a test or other assignment from the faculty member; 4.
Collaborating on a test, quiz, or other project with any other person(s)
without authorization. 5. Using or processing specifically prepared
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on the students clothing, etc.) that are not authorized; or 6. Taking
a test for someone else or permitting someone else to take a test
Misconduct includes other academically dishonest acts such as
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but are not limited to: 1. Stealing, buying, or otherwise obtaining
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specified allotted time has elapsed; 8. Any buying or otherwise
acquiring any theme report, term paper, essay, computer software,
other written work, and handing it in as your own to fulfill academic
requirement; or 9. Any selling, giving, or otherwise supplying to
another student for use in fulfilling academic requirements any
theme, report, term paper, essay, computer software, other written