June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.142.1 - 22.142.12
Administering a Digital Logic Concept Inventory at Multiple Institutions Instructors in electrical and computer engineering and in computer science havedeveloped innovative methods to teach digital logic circuits. These methods attempt to increasestudent learning, satisfaction, and retention. Although there are readily accessible and acceptedmeans for measuring satisfaction and retention, there are no widely accepted means for assessingstudent learning. Rigorous assessment of learning is elusive because differences in topiccoverage, curriculum and course goals, and exam content prevent direct comparison of twoteaching methods when using tools such as final exam scores or course grades. Because of thesedifficulties, computing educators have issued a general call for the adoption of assessment toolsto critically evaluate and compare the various teaching methods. A commonly accepted benchmark for comparing student learning is to compare the levelof students’ conceptual knowledge upon completion of a course. Conceptual knowledge is oftenpreferred because all courses should teach a fundamental set of concepts even if they emphasizedesign or analysis to different degrees. Increasing conceptual learning is also important, becausestudents who can organize facts and ideas within a consistent conceptual framework are able tolearn new information quickly and can apply what they know in new situations. If instructorscan accurately assess their students’ conceptual knowledge, they can target instructionalinterventions to remedy common problems. To properly assess conceptual learning, manyengineering disciplines have developed concept inventories (CIs) for core subjects in engineeringsciences. CIs are multiple-choice assessment tools that evaluate how well a student’s conceptualframework matches the accepted conceptual framework of a discipline or common faultyconceptual frameworks. We present how we created and evaluated the digital logic CI. The digital logic CI wascreated by using a Delphi process for identifying the important and difficult concepts to includeon the CI. Student interviews and a qualitative grounded theory approach of analysis were usedfor discovering common student misconceptions. We have administered the digital logic CI at several institutions and have checked thevalidity, reliability, and bias of the CI with classical testing theory procedures. These proceduresconsisted of follow-up interviews with students, analysis of administration results with statisticalprocedures, and expert feedback. We discuss these results and present the digital logic CI’spotential for providing a meaningful tool for comparing student learning at different institutions.
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