WeBWorK for faculty

Below are video guides produced in 2018. A PDF guide to using WeBWorK is available. This PDF guide was updated in 2015, and may again be updated someday. With both the videos and the PDF guide, the intended audience is Portland Community College faculty, and there may be language/instructions that are specific to PCC. However, WeBWorK-using faculty at other institutions may find these materials useful too.

New WeBWorK course shells

To request a new WeBWorK course shell:

If you need to contact someone for some other reason about hosting a course on the PCC WeBWorK server, contact webwork-group@pcc.edu.

Basic course setup

The basic course setup video covers:

  • Logging in for the first time
  • Brief navigation orientation
  • Changing your password
  • Editing the Course Information panel
  • Course Configuration options

Manually adding course roster

The manually adding course roster video covers:

  • Import a PCC course roster
  • Add individual students one at a time
  • Remove/drop a student

Using D2L and Single Sign-On

The using D2L and single sign-on video covers:

  • Creating an external learning tools link to WeBWorK
  • Student self-enrollment
  • Disabling direct log-in to WeBWorK
  • Creating a navbar button to WeBWorK

Updates since the video was made:

  • In the Course Configuration menu, there is an “LTI” tab. Using this tab, you can more easily disable direct login to WeBWorK.
  • Once you are on the External Learning Tools management page, switch to the “Manage Tool Links (Legacy)” tab.

Activating (“Importing”) homework sets

The activating (“importing”) homework sets video covers:

  • Import the Orientation problem set
  • Import a collection of default homework sets

Editing a homework set

The editing a homework set video covers:

  • Viewing all the problems in an active set
  • Deleting a problem from a set
  • Marking a problem correct for all students
  • Finding problems in the library to add to a set and adding them
  • Rearranging the order of problems in a set
  • Setting relative weight and max attempts for each question in a set
  • Editing a set description
  • Editing set header information

Create a homework set from scratch

The create a homework set from scratch video covers:

  • Create a new empty homework set
  • Search Open Problem Library for problems to add
  • Search PCC libraries for problems to add
  • Set due dates
  • Set description and set header
  • Assign to students

Importing a quiz from the PCC Library

The importing a quiz from the PCC Library video covers:

  • Import a quiz from a curated set definition file in the PCC library
  • Discuss the meanings of quiz settings
  • Discuss a problem intended to be submitted through D2L outside of WeBWorK
  • View the quiz from the student perspective

Quiz assembly

The quiz assembly video covers:

  • Create a quiz using the Library Browser
  • Discuss the meanings of quiz settings

Making a quiz

The making a quiz video is an older video. The two quiz-related videos above may be more helpful. There is one more quiz-related video coming that will make this one completely redundant.

  • Selecting problems
  • Configuring quiz administration options
  • Grading
  • Option to proctor

One D2L course with two WeBWorK courses

The one D2L course with two WeBWorK courses video covers:

  • In one D2L course, use set-by-set grade passback with one WeBWorK course containing your quizzes and exams
  • A separate WeBWorK course can contain homework sets and take less overhead

Palette tool options

The palette tool options video covers:

  • The MathView math editor
  • The WIRIS math editor
  • User Settings to disable math editors

Managing student email

The managing student email video covers:

  • Email Instructor button
  • Adding a Gmail filter for WeBWorK help emails
  • Process for responding to a student email
  • Seeing a student’s past answers

Assessment tools

The assessment tools video covers:

  • Scoring tools
  • Statistics on problem sets
  • Student progress on problem sets

Editing individual student data

The editing individual student data video covers:

  • Changing dates for a problem set for a particular student (or a subset of students)
  • For one student (or a subset of students), for one problem, changing the:
    • random seed,
    • score,
    • weight,
    • max attempts,
    • Show Me Another threshold,
    • problem source file

Gamification: math achievements

The Gamification: math achievements video covers:

  • Activating achievements
  • Points and badges
  • Achievement items

Show me another

Video not yet produced.

Commercial online homework platforms often have a feature where a student can get a step-by-step solution for the problem they are working on, at the cost of having the problem that they were assigned re-randomized. WeBWorK’s Show Me Another Feature is like this, except that the version of the problem that was originally assigned to the student remains their assigned version, and they can see solutions to the newly seeded problem. It is worth noting that if WeBWorK is unable to generate a new version of the problem that is different from the version that is actually assigned, then it will tell the student this, and that this feature is unavailable for this problem.

There are several checks in place to allow you to customize how this feature is used. First of all, in Course Configuration (Optional Modules tab), you decide what elements of the newly seeded problem the student will have access to. There are four options, any subset of which can be enabled.

  • Solutions: if the newly seeded version has a walk-through solution, then the student will be able to see it.
  • Answers: Let students see what answer was expected for the newly seeded version.
  • Hints: some WeBWorK problems are coded with hints that are revealed depending on a global setting by the instructor and how many attempts the student has used. (Very few problems used at PCC are coded with hints.) With this checked, students have access to the newly seeded version’s hints regardless of other settings.
  • Check answers: this gives the student the ability to enter an answer for the newly seeded version and have WeBWorK check if it is correct or not.

The other thing to set in Course Configuration is the number of times a student may use Show Me Another for each problem. Maybe you wouldn’t care to allow your student to use this button over and over again on any one problem forever. For example, setting it to 3 means that a student only gets 3 uses of SMA for each problem. Setting this to 0 means they can’t use it at all. If you set this to -1, then there is no limit.

Lastly, you very well might like this feature to be enabled for some problems, but not all. For this reason, in the Set Details page for a problem set, you can set the threshold of attempts that a student must use before the button becomes available to them. For example, if it is set to 2, then they must attempt the problem twice before the button is available. If you want the button to be immediately available, set the threshold to 0. If you want the button to never be available for that problem, then the convention is to use -1. (If you have a multiple choice question, where new random versions simply permute the order the options are presented, then you may not want to allow students to use SMA on that problem.)

Sometimes when you import a problem set, these per-problem SMA values will come along with the problem set you imported. It just depends on where the problem set definition file came from. If that happens, and you are not happy with the values that were imported, you could either change all the numbers manually or mass edit the set definition file(s) and re-import the problem sets.

Reduced scoring period

Video not yet produced.

You can set up a problem set so that it has a date by which students can receive full credit, and a second date where each submission is only worth some percentage of full credit. For example, suppose a set has three exercises. A student correctly answers #1 for full credit on time, and answers #2 half correctly at the same time. At this point, their scores are (100, 50, 0). Then a day late, they answer #2 fully correct and answer #3 half correct. Then if you have set the reduced scoring weight to 70%, the student will have scores (100, 70, 35).

Here is some important vocabulary for using this feature. From the student’s perspective, there is a “due date” (when they get full credit) and an “accepted late for reduced credit date”. From the teacher’s perspective, there is a “reduced credit date” (when students start getting reduced credit) and a “close date”.

To use this feature:

  • You must enable reduced scoring in Course Configuration (Optional Modules tab).
  • Also in Course Configuration, set the weight you wish to use.
  • Now when you visit the Hmwk Sets Editor, an active set has four dates where it otherwise would have three. The reduced credit date has been added as an additional column. Edit these dates as you like. Note that you will get an error message if your dates do not make sense. I.e. “open date” < “reduced credit date” <= “close date” <= “answer date”.
  • Also for each problem set, there is a checkbox to mark for whether or not reduced credit applies to that set.

Sometimes when you import a problem set, the reduced scoring dates and flag will come along with the problem set you imported. It just depends on where the problem set definition file came from. If that happens, and you are not happy with the values that were imported, you could either change all the dates and flags manually or mass edit the set definition file(s) and re-import the problem sets.

Conditional release

Video not yet produced.

You can make it possible to conditionally release homework assignments. For example, this can be used to make it so that Assignment #2 is not available until a student has say a 90% on Assignment #1, etc.

After enabling this in the Course Configuration (Optional Modules tab), then visit the set details page for Assignment #2. You will be able to choose the set that it depends on, and a score that students must have on that set before Assignment #2 is available. You will have to type the name of the set. You need to know that if your set name appears to have space characters, they are actually underscores. So for example, type “Assignment_#2”, not “Assignment #2”.

Periodic re-randomization

Video not yet produced.

Moving content from one course to another

Video not yet produced.

Using D2L and simple grade pass-back

Video not yet produced.

In the Course Configuration menu, there is an LTI tab. In this tab, you may choose an option for grade passback. For simple grade passback, choose “course”. WeBWorK will send one score back to D2L that will occupy a single column in the grade book.

This score is out of all problems in the course that have been assigned to the student in problem sets that have already passed their open date. Therefore it can be misleadingly low, since it may count problems from not-yet-due problem sets as zeros.

You might consider hiding this column from student view in D2L and using it only for instructor purposes.

Using D2L and set-by-set grade pass-back

Video not yet produced.

In the Course Configuration menu, there is an LTI tab. In this tab, you may choose an option for grade passback. For set-by-set grade passback, choose “homework”. WeBWorK will send one score back to D2L for each problem set. However, there are some caveats.

For this to work, you must set up multiple external learning tool links in D2L, at least one per problem set. The address for the link should be in the form:


If the name of the problem set has space characters, use an underscore for each space.

If the link is to a quiz, then the form of the address must be:


To initialize communication between D2L and WeBWorK about one problem set, a student must follow an ELT link for that problem set at least once.

If the D2L course is cloned for a future term, each of these ELT links needs to be visited and updated to the future term’s WeBWorK course.

Remote proctored tests/quizzes

The remote proctored tests/quizzes video covers:

  • Create the underlying exercise set.
  • Visit its Set Details page and set various configuration settings as desired.
  • Recommended: 1 problem per page.
  • Proctor Authorization Type should be at Start only. (If you want to also authorize when students submit their exam at the end, then (1) create a new user in the Classlist Editor (2) assign some password to that new user (3) elevate that user’s permission to grade_proctor. Then when students finish the test you can give them this user’s name and password. You probably want to change that user’s password after giving it to students.)
  • Enter a password that students use to begin the quiz. You could reveal this to students verbally or through D2L when it is time to start the exam.

Reporting bugs

Video not yet produced.