2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Student Engagement with Interactive Engineering Textbook Reading Assignments When Tied to the Grade

Presented at Mechanical Engineering Division (MECH) Technical Session 9: Online Learning Environments

Engineering courses have seen a rise in the usage of online textbooks, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for classes to be remote. Some of these online textbooks contain learning questions, video media, animations, simulations, 3D tools, and other interactive elements. The goal for these interactive elements is for students to engage through reading, answering questions, watching videos, stepping through animations, or otherwise participating with the interactive content. Despite the availability of such interactivity, student engagement is not a guarantee. Due to time constraints and other pressures, students may opt for racing through the textbook or skipping the interactive elements entirely, rather than earnestly interacting with the material. In response, some instructors have tried to motivate reading by assigning the completion of reading assignments as a percentage of the final course grade. This paper investigates how student textbook engagement is affected when reading assignments are tied to the final course grade.

This paper uses data from online interactive engineering textbooks containing short answer, matching, and multiple-choice questions, along with animations as assigned activities. The animations show key conceptual information, and are viewed in a sequential step order. All steps must be viewed in order to receive credit. For this paper, we measure student engagement through activity completion percentage. We describe the various components of interactive engineering textbooks, outline a definition of engagement, and summarize overall textbook engagement data. Across three engineering textbooks, we confirm a significant positive correlation between student engagement and the percentage of final course grade awarded for completion of assigned activities. Assigning any percentage at all corresponds to over a 35% increase in content completion, and the higher the assigned percentage, the greater the completion increase. These results strongly suggest that instructors should assign course credit for completion of interactive textbook material if they want students to read and engage.

  1. Chelsea Gordon zyBooks, A Wiley Brand [biography]
  2. Dr. Adrian Rodriguez zyBooks, A Wiley Brand [biography]
  3. Dr. Alicia Clark zyBooks, A Wiley Brand [biography]
  4. Mr. Bryan Gambrel zyBooks, A Wiley Brand
  5. Ms. Linda Ratts zyBooks, A Wiley Brand
  6. Dr. Ryan Barlow zyBooks, A Wiley Brand [biography]
  7. Dr. Yamuna Rajasekhar zyBooks, A Wiley Brand [biography]
  8. Dr. Nikitha Sambamurthy zyBooks, A Wiley Brand [biography]
  9. Lauren Fogg zyBooks, a Wiley Brand [biography]
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