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An Automated Grading System For Teaching Matlab To Freshman Engineers

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.184.1 - 8.184.11



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Paper Authors

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James Bowen

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

Session 2193

An Automated Grading System for Teaching MATLAB to Freshman Engineers

James D. Bowen and Charles E. Price University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Systems for homework assignment, preliminary grading, homework submission, and final grading have been developed for a course unit that teaches MATLAB programming. During the MATLAB unit, which comprises approximately half of the semester, weekly homework assignments require all students to write and submit MATLAB scripts that test the programming concepts covered during the week’s classroom lectures. Homeworks are assigned and submitted on the Internet using web-based forms. A MATLAB-based grading system developed for the course allows students to grade their own assignments before submission. This same system is used in an automated mode to grade the students’ submitted assignments and to generate grading reports. Several measures have been taken to discourage cheating and to check for cheating in submitted scripts.

The automated grading system has proven to be a successful method for administering computer programming homework assignments. Students seem to quickly learn the systems for picking-up, grading, and submitting assignments, and have made heavy use of the grade- checking feature of the system. For instance, in the first ten weeks of the Fall 2002 semester, the system was used approximately 3000 times by 28 students and a teaching assistant as they worked on six MATLAB assignments. Script grading takes approximately ten minutes for a 100-student class. The system works particularly well in documenting the grading process, as the original submitted script, an annotated grading outcome, and a grade spreadsheet are all automatically saved securely during grading. The system has fostered student learning several ways; by allowing for more assignments, by allowing students to check their own work, and by allowing the instructor and the teaching assistants to focus their efforts on instruction rather than on grading and administering homework assignments.


Like many engineering schools, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte has had a continuing debate regarding the freshman engineering curricula. One of the issues under discussion is the need for computer programming in the curricula. Like faculty elsewhere5 nearly all faculty at UNC Charlotte believe that students need to learn early in their academic career “basic” computer skills such as word processing, spreadsheet analysis, and data presentation. Likewise, many faculty favor the approach taken by other schools2

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Bowen, J. (2003, June), An Automated Grading System For Teaching Matlab To Freshman Engineers Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12051

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