One of the most frequent questions I get about MyLab homework and quizzes is “How many problems do you put in an assignment?” My most frequent answer … It Depends.
When I first started my homework assignments had somewhere between 15 and 20 questions. My chapter quizzes, which became semi-chapter quizzes, also had between 15 and 20 questions.
As I have aged, I apparently have become a minimalist! I have drastically cut down the length of my assignments, and I have done so with my students’ success in mind. I start each section with a media assignment that is a mix of concept and example videos accompanied by 5 or 6 problems. (I blogged about this type of assignment here.) When students are working on a smaller number of problems they are more likely to take them seriously and less likely to just use the learning aids to slosh their way though them all. This assignment should be enough to get students prepared for my section quiz.
Students next take a 5-problem quiz. (Read more about quizzes here.) I select 5 problems that I think are the most important for that section. With only 5 questions, students are more likely to try the quiz a second (or third) time, which is a plus. The quiz loads a personalized homework assignment that focuses on the areas that each student needs to work on. (Read more about personalized homework here.) Although the personalized homework could be at most 15 problems long, it is often shorter than that. Also, because students know they need to improve on these topics, it has less of a drill-and-kill feel to it.
Since I have adopted this approach, I rarely hear complaints about how long the assignments are. Instead, I hear students tell me how the assignments are helping them to learn and understand. Isn’t that refreshing!
I encourage you to look at your assignments and see if you can streamline them.