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Addressing Muddy Points Early in the Semester Increases Student Learning in a Bioinstrumentation Laboratory Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Using Technology and Research-based Instructional Practices in BME

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.159.1 - 26.159.9



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Paper Authors


Renata Fortuna Ramos Rice University

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Renata Ramos is the Director of Undergraduate studies and a Lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005:

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Addressing Muddy Points Early in the Semester Increases Student Learning in a Bioinstrumentation Laboratory CourseMany lecture courses use muddy points as an instructional assessment technique that allows theinstructor to gather information about the topics that are not clear to the students at the end ofeach class. Using this information, the amount of lecture time allocated to a specific topic can beincreased or decreased to match students’ feedback and emphasize the areas where the studentsneed more support.A modified version of this technique was recently implemented in a junior level, project-basedbioinstrumentation course that focuses around the design, construction and testing of biomedicaltechnology. At the end of each class, students take an on-line survey where they are asked toidentify the concepts that are still unclear and/or to highlight the information and tools they needin order to successfully complete their projects. Due to the fact that this is an open-endedlaboratory course and that the amount of lecture time is minimal, the collected feedback was toodiverse and could rarely be addressed during class time. Instead of using muddy points tomodify the class content, a written document was developed covering all the questions asked bythe students and providing them with resources to different tools and material that would helpthem obtain the additional information they needed. These feedback documents were postedwithin a week after the students’ comments were collected and were available until the projectwas completed.The impact of implementing this technique was assessed using final project grades. The firstproject was selected to evaluate these changes since it is graded individually and can betteraddress student learning. Oral project presentations and written report grades were comparedbefore and after 2013 when this technique was first used in the course. Average presentation andreport grades show an increase after muddy points were introduced to the laboratory course,suggesting that addressing misconceptions and providing feedback early on contributes tostudent learning in the bioinstrumentation laboratory course.

Ramos, R. F. (2015, June), Addressing Muddy Points Early in the Semester Increases Student Learning in a Bioinstrumentation Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23498

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