Often textbooks don't have solutions to problems and if they do they are often password protected for instructor use only.

Has any research been done (in peer reviewed journals) that looks at whether providing solutions to students actually benefits the student in their actual understanding of the subject?


2 Answers 2


Why do you need "research in peer reviewed journals" for something you can easily figure out experimentally yourself in a couple of semesters using exactly the setup you are interested in? The students also provide you with a lot of feedback themselves if you bother to ask them and to listen to the answers. The typical answer to this question (coming from those who have no trouble with the subject) is something along the lines "Yes, I do need to see written solutions to exercises to have a sample of exemplary argument construction and mathematical writing I can follow". I buy this 100% and do not care in the slightest what the modern education theories say after that.


Providing a solution manual ensures that students will cheat on homeworks.

But ultimately, it depends on the structure of the course. I generally think it is a good idea to include the solution for fundamental problems, and leave out the solution for the more advantaged ones. And if the solution manual is provided, perhaps allocate less grade percentage to the homeworks.

I've taken courses where the solution for even the basic results were not provided (a course done using the so-called "Moore's method"). So it became a you either get it or you don't type of class and believe me, a lot of people did not get it. The most successful students were also the most popular ones, who were able to crowd-source other students' solutions to reach a consensus. I think it is a very poor way of teaching students when no feedback is provided.

  • 7
    The first paragraph seems to assume that the teacher would still be taking homework problems from the set of exercises for which the solutions have been provided. That would of course be a terrible idea and easy enough to avoid. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 10:02
  • So, what do you provide?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 13:13
  • @TobiasKildetoft Eactly right?...you think the teachers would care enough to avoid these problems. But in reality they don't.
    – Norman
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 17:37
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    I have no idea what terrible teachers you have had that did not care if the textbook had included solutions when deciding which problems to set as homework. All of mine have cared, as do I. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 19:16

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