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A Tablet Pc Based Electronic Grading System In A Large First Year Engineering Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Tablet and Portable PCs for Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.127.1 - 14.127.29



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Paper Authors


Ricky Castles Virginia Tech

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RICKY T. CASTLES is a computer engineering PhD student in the Bradley Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He received a masters of science degree in computer engineering in 2006 and a masters of science degree in industrial and systems engineering (human factors option) in 2008. He is currently a co-coordinator for hands-on workshops in a first-year engineering course. His research interests include knowledge representation, physiological data monitoring, artificial intelligence, and expert systems.

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Eric Scott Virginia Tech

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Eric Scott is an undergraduate electrical engineering student at Virginia Tech whose interest in engineering comes from a strong family connection to that field. Having originally studied Computer Science, he is currently a junior in the Bradley Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He became involved in grading for Virginia Tech's Engineering Education department in 2007, and became the head grader for the first semester engineering exploration course in 2008. His interests include
playing the piano and watching science fiction.

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Jenny Lo Virginia Tech

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JENNY LO is an advanced instructor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She is co-coordinator of a first-year engineering course and her research interests include engineering ethics, curriculum development, and use of classroom technologies.

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Vinod Lohani Virginia Tech

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VINOD K. LOHANI is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Education and an adjunct faculty in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He received a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1995. His areas of teaching and research include engineering education, international collaboration and hydrology & water resources.

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

Tablet-PC Based Electronic Grading System in a Large First Year Engineering Course Abstract

In Spring 2008, an electronic homework submission, grading, and return system was piloted at Virginia Tech in a freshman engineering course using Tablet PC technology and the Blackboard course management system. This course previously required students to turn in hardcopies of homework assignments once a week, which ranged from a single page to upwards of 10 pages per week per student. Following the successful pilot, a completely electronic grading system was deployed on a large scale in the Fall 2008 semester offering of the same course with over 1,400 students turning in and receiving grades and feedback on all of their assignments electronically. All freshmen in the Virginia Tech engineering program are required to own a Tablet PC and DyKnow technology is used to enhance classroom interactions. This electronic grading system is expected to further justify the use of Tablet-PC technology in instruction.

This paper explores the logistics of the grading implementation including the necessary technological and personnel infrastructure. The roles played by faculty members, graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), and undergraduate graders in the electronic grading paradigm are clearly described and compared with the roles played by these groups under the former paper- based system. In order to showcase the environmental benefits of such a system, an estimate of the reduction in paper usage under the fully electronic system when compared with the traditional pen and paper grading system is included. Several foreseen and unforeseen benefits and drawbacks of electronic grading are discussed and compared with traditional paper-based grading including the time graders spend marking assignments, the availability of assignment documentation, some technological challenges, and the training necessary to become a successful grader. Data is presented from student surveys to showcase student opinions on electronic grading. Feedback from graduate teaching assistants, faculty members, and undergraduate graders is also included to showcase the positive and negative aspects of the current grading system.


Engineering freshmen at Virginia Tech are required to own a Tablet PC. This initiative began in Fall 2006. Since then a number of Tablet PC-based instruction activities have been implemented in a variety of engineering courses. Tablet PC technology makes it possible to do many tasks using a PC that were once much easier to do with pen and paper. Using Tablet PCs anything that can be drawn or written on paper can be representeddigitally in the same amount of time as it would take to draw on paper. This includes the preparation of engineering drawings and equations alongside text in a freer format than is possible using most software packages without digital ink. Throughout this paper an electronic grading initiative in a large first-semester engineering course will be discussed. In the following sections the course using this initiative will be described along with the roles each of the course personnel played in implementing electronic grading. Student, faculty, graduate teaching assistant, and undergraduate grader opinions will be introduced to showcase how the initiative was received. Data comparing electronic grading with pen and paper based grading will be discussed to illustrate the differences

Castles, R., & Scott, E., & Lo, J., & Lohani, V. (2009, June), A Tablet Pc Based Electronic Grading System In A Large First Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5329

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015