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A Comparison Of On Line And Traditional Testing Methods

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Web-Based Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.29.1 - 11.29.9



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Paper Authors

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Tamara Knott Virginia Tech


Steve York Virginia Tech

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Dr. Steven C York is an assistant professor in the department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He received his BS degree in chemistry from Radford University in 1984 and his PhD in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech in 1999. Dr York has taught courses in engineering problem solving and design, chemical engineering and chemistry. Dr York has also designed and implemented a number of design-build projects and engineering laboratory experiences for first-year engineering students at VA Tech. Dr York is a member of ASEE and the American Chemical Society.

Address: Engineering Education Department, 331-B Randolph Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 24061 Phone: 540-231-9783. Email:

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introduction and background Until the 2001-2002 academic year, the department of Engineering Education (EngE) at VA Tech used no course management software in the administration of its freshman program courses (EngE 1024 and EngE 1114). All class handouts, worksheets, quizzes and tests were distributed to students via paper copies, which was a labor intensive and expensive process for the department. When the course management software Blackboard became available, a few EngE faculty members began using it to post assignments and other pertinent course information. This assured student’s ready access to these materials through their own Blackboard course link and instructors benefited from reduced copying and in-class distribution time as compared to paper copy distribution. Posting course materials in this manner using Blackboard is now the standard means for distribution of handouts, homework assignments and lecture notes within the EngE department and is widely used for the same by departments throughout the VA Tech campus While the Blackboard system is successfully used by faculty as a means site for providing course information and assignments to students, many of the other Blackboard functions such as testing, grading forms and discussion groups were deemed too cumbersome by most faculty to merit regular use in large classes and/or multiple sections of the same course. Therefore, the in-class testing capabilities of the software were never explored by EngE. During the second semester of the first-year engineering course series (EngE 1114) students are taught algorithm development and flowcharting (using Visio); programming (using MatLab); and CAD modeling (using Inventor), in an overall context of engineering design. During the summer of 20051 a small, unpublished study used the assessment tools of Blackboard to conduct multiple choice quizzes and tests and used the drop box function to collect MatLab programs and Inventor CAD files during in-class student assessments. The recent enactment of a student laptop computer requirement by the VA Tech College of Engineering and the advent of wireless internet access across campus have made it possible for students to use their own computers during these in- class assessments. The summer study demonstrated that Blackboard was useful in such utilities as the drop box and was used with limited success for in-class assessment. In paper testing conducted in previous years students were required to write MatLab programs by hand as a workout problem solution, in addition to a multiple choice section (opscan-paper). The EngE faculty never liked this method of testing programming skills, but no acceptable alternative could be conceived. Similarly, Inventor skills were simply not tested during an in-class exam because of the impossible logistics of generating, collecting and grading the student CAD files. The results of the preliminary study cited suggest that online testing using Blackboard in the classroom is more accurate and effective in testing student’s MatLab and Inventor skills. The preliminary study also showed that an in-class multiple choice exam using student laptop computers can be accomplished for a small group of students, but it was also found that Blackboard can be cumbersome to use for both students and faculty; Blackboard has numerous compatibility issues with commonly used software; Blackboard can be frustrating to faculty who wish to exercise more control over their test

Knott, T., & York, S. (2006, June), A Comparison Of On Line And Traditional Testing Methods Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1274

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