San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.78.1 - 25.78.26
ANewAssessmentMethodtoEasilyIdentifyAreasNeedingImprovementinCourse‐levelLearningOutcomesThomas A. Knotts IV, W. Vincent Wilding, William G. Pitt, and Morris D. Argyle Department of Chemical Engineering, Brigham Young University Assessment of student proficiency in expected outcomes, whether on the course or program level, is an important aspect of curriculum development in engineering programs. The reasons for such assessment range from desires to improve student learning to fulfilling requirements of various accreditation bodies. But regardless of the reasons, the challenge is to develop suitable metrics which can clearly identify areas which need improvement. In order to assess student learning, the Department of Chemical Engineering at Brigham Young University has outlined multiple objectives (termed competencies) for each course in the curriculum. Each competency is designed to correspond to a specific program outcome such that assessment of mastery of the course competencies demonstrates achievement of the Program Outcomes. For several years, mastery of the competencies has been measured by direct methods by the faculty and indirectly using surveys by both faculty and students. The student surveys required each pupil to assess his or her mastery of each competency on a scale of 1‐5. Though this approach has provided a numerical evaluation of the abilities of each class as a whole, and has ensured minimum standards are kept, it has proven difficult to glean opportunities for specific improvement from these data, and changes to the curriculum have been largely prompted by the faculty surveys. In an effort to improve the student surveys, changes were recently made to the assessment methods for two courses: Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics and Plant Design. The numerical rating was removed and replaced with a simple yes/no question asking if the student felt proficient in each competency. In addition, the students were asked to select two of the competencies which were given “no” and explain the reason for the weakness. These simple adjustments greatly increased the effectiveness of the student surveys with no additional overhead cost. The data readily identify competencies which are problematic for students and (more importantly) the reasons for the struggles. This facilitates making of precise plans to improve student learning the next time the course is taught. This paper will explain this new assessment process in detail. To illustrate the value of the new procedures, the results of the new method will be compared with those of the traditional method (numerical 1‐5 scale). Emphasis will be placed on showing how the new method not only provides better data, but does so in a time‐efficient manner and makes “closing‐the‐loop” easy. Taken as a whole, the process is such an advancement over the previous method that it instills a sense of excitement for the assessment process that is not usually present in discussions on the topic.
Knotts, T. A., & Wilding, W. V., & Pitt, W. G., & Argyle, M. D. (2012, June), A New Assessment Method to Easily Identify Areas Needing Improvement in Course-level Learning Outcomes Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20838
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