June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.168.1 - 13.168.10
Alternative Student Performance Evaluations in Mechanical Measurement Courses Abstract
Courses that introduce experimentation, mechanical measurements and instrumentation have always been a fundamental part of a mechanical engineering technology program. Over the past few years, many papers have been written to document the drastic evolution of these courses. Most of the changes have been driven by advances in virtual instrumentation and data acquisition. Other developments resulted from critiquing student outcomes, which was brought about from current accreditation procedures.
One area which has not been addressed in the literature is assessing student knowledge in these courses. While the content and pedagogy of mechanical measurement courses has evolved, the grading has not. Grades are primarily determined from knowledge-based, problem-oriented tests and laboratory reports. While these are valuable assessment measures, they focus on a theoretical understanding, and the ability to analyze and communicate results. They do not directly address the ability of the student to design, configure and perform experiments. These items are the main focus of engineering technology programs.
This paper deals with methods to assess the abilities of the students in mechanical measurement courses. A review of common student outcomes and primarily used assessment methods will be presented. Yet, the focus will be on an alternative method, namely, practicum exams. This paper includes a statistical correlation of student performance at the University of X on primary and alternative measures. Additionally, student and instructor reactions to the methods at University of X will be offered.
A course that introduces mechanical measurements, instrumentation and experimentation techniques has continually been an essential part of mechanical engineering and engineering technology programs. In many curricula, this course can single-handedly satisfy a program outcome required of the primary accreditation agency, ABET.
b. “Students must have the ability to conduct, analyze and interpret experimental and apply experimental results to improve processes”
The typical mechanical measurements course includes familiarization with a variety of sensors, while completing fundamental mechanical measurements[1, 7, 9]. The course allows students to gain experience with experimentation, along with expanding their understanding of mechanical phenomena presented in other courses.
The use of sensors, instrumentation and data acquisition systems in commercial products and manufacturing equipment has been rapidly growing over the last several years. “Smart” has been used to describe products from aircraft to automobiles to toasters. Expertise with mechanical measurements is critical for technical professionals working with the design or implementation these systems.
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