Arizona State University

Secrets of Success with WeBWorK

At the end of each semester, we survey students who used WeBWorK. On the whole, students have found using WeBWorK to be helpful, but there are some problems/complaints which come up. Here we present the most common problems and advice on how to avoid them.

In most cases, problems can be avoided by doing three things:
  1. Start working on your homework early; you can then fix problems before an assignment is due.
  2. Use the Preview button to see how WeBWorK has parsed your answer.
  3. When you are having trouble, get help from a person (your teacher, a tutor, or a classmate).
The third suggestion is probably the most important. WeBWorK will show you which problems you are having difficulty with. It is then up to you to get help with them. If you have started early, you can still get the problems right.

It would help to have a list of the functions/notations WeBWorK accepts

When WeBWorK gives the list of problems for an assignment, it usually gives a link to the list on the right side of the page. It is: List of available functions

Some students prefer doing their math homework on paper

So do we! WeBWorK does not require students to work out the problems at their computer. We recommend that students print out the assignments and work out the problems on paper. Then enter the answers into WeBWorK.

It is frustrating to keep guessing at answers

No one expects students to repeatedly guess at their homework answers. If you are having problems, consult a person who might be able to help, be it your teacher, a math tutor, or a classmate.

It would be better if a teacher graded my homework so I could see where I was going wrong

Before WeBWorK was introduced at ASU, homework problems typically went ungraded. It would be nice to have a teacher grade your homework problems and indicate exactly where you went wrong. But, for classes which use WeBWorK, most paper homeworks were only spot checked (i.e., a small percentage were marked right/wrong by a grader).

You can get this sort of help when doing WeBWorK problems. When you are getting a problem wrong in WeBWorK, you should get help from a math tutor or from your instructor. By bringing your work, they can help you find where you went wrong. If you start your homework early, you can do this and still submit the right answer before the due date. That way, you get help on the problems you are getting wrong and can still get them right.

WeBWorK won't accept my answer unless I enter it in a special form

WeBWorK uses standard mathematical notation as much as possible, and it accepts answers entered in many different forms, as long as they are correct. If you have examples where this is not the case, bring it to the attention of your teacher, so he or she can take it to the WeBWorK administrators.