Gendered responses to online homework use in general chemistry
Online homework assignments have been shown to enhance student performance. Our research on gendered responses to these assignments adds new and useful information. We investigated differences between male and female students' responses to online homework in large-enrollment general chemistry courses. Replacing in class quizzes with online homework assignments significantly improved general chemistry success rates for both sexes—however, male students' average success rate improvement was double that of female students'. Therefore, online homework use decreased the female–male achievement gap, previously in favor of female students, to a difference that was no longer significant. Males self-reported less effective study habits than females; thus, we hypothesize that online homework might encourage more effective study habits for male students. However, in spite of greater performance gains for male students, females self-reported more positive views toward online homework use than males. Therefore, females might benefit from online homework's positive impact on their confidence in understanding the material. In addition to improving student performance, online homework also appeared to enhance student retention in the course. Overall, online homework provides a time and cost effective means to enhance pedagogy in large classes for both male and female students.