The tutorial benefits of on-line assignments: MasteringPhysics in first year physics at the University of Sydney

John O’Byrne, Richard Thompson


The MasteringPhysics system was trialled at the University of Sydney during second semester of 2004 in the PHYS 1003 (Technological) unit of study. This group of approximately 250 students, mostly from science and engineering degrees, was chosen because problem solving is an important aspect of their course. Importantly, these students had already completed one semester of physics using the paper-based assignment system. They could therefore comment on the relative merits of the two systems from the students’ perspective.

The system was used for six assignments that covered the subject areas of fluids, electromagnetism and quantum physics. Each assignment consisted of eight questions - two five and two ten mark ‘assignment’ questions, reflecting the structure of the paper-based assignments, plus four ‘tutorial’ questions worth just two marks each. These were intended to encourage use of other tutorial questions provided separately.

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