Mastery-style homework exercises in introductory physics courses: Implementation matters

Brianne Gutmann, Gary Gladding, Morten Lundsgaard, Timothy Stelzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Encouraged by positive clinical results at the University of Illinois, mastery-style homework was integrated into a large semester-long preparatory physics course via an online homework system that used narrated animated video solutions as correctives. This paper discusses the impact and evolution of the homework in its first two years. The first iteration revealed that students were frustrated and did not engage with the system in an effective way. Intending to reduce that frustration and quell negative behavior, the mastery requirement was relaxed, transfer between versions was reduced, and the addition of a direct discussion with students about the homework were implemented in its second year. The results showed that details of implementation can substantially affect students' behavior; large and statistically significant effects were observed as a reduction in frustration (with self-identified "frustrated" students dropping from 60% in 2014 to 30% in 2015) and improvement in performance (average student mastery rate of 59% to 69%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number010128
JournalPhysical Review Physics Education Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 18 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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