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Assessment in the High Performance Learning Environment

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Project-Based, Inquiry Guided, and High Performance Learning Environments: Effective Approaches

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.249.1 - 22.249.4



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Paper Authors


Sharon G. Sauer Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Sharon G. Sauer is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where she is teaching a variety of classroom and laboratory courses. She has long-standing interests in active learning techniques and has published papers in this and other educational areas, as well as in the fields of statistical thermodynamics and electrophoresis.

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Pedro E. Arce Tennessee Technological University Orcid 16x16

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Pedro E. Arce is a University Distinguished Faculty Fellow, Professor and Chair of the Chemical Engineering Dpt. at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN. He has made numerous contributions to active and collaborative learning techniques including Personalized Class Binders (PCB); Principal Objects of Knowledge (POK), Coaching Model of Instruction and High Performance Learning Environments (Hi-PeLE).

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Assessment in the High Performance Learning Environment  The High Performance Learning Environment (Hi‐PeLE) is a multidimensional learning platform where students are exposed to and engaged in a variety of activities.  It is this characteristic that distinguishes Hi‐PeLE considerably from those of traditional lecture‐based courses.  For example, in Hi‐PeLE, one may encounter individual or team‐based projects or both.  Students interact with the facilitator of learning (i.e., the professor), classmates, TAs, and even former instructors and vendors.  Projects, primarily team‐based, may be theoretical, computational, or experimental in nature and in some cases a combination of these are also used. For those versions of Hi‐PeLE that use an innovative and creative student‐centered component (part of the Linear Engineering Sequence, LES) a working prototype of a proposed device may be required as an outcome.  Furthermore, a course offered in a Hi‐PeLE format may involve student participation in reading and/or discussion in formal or informal groups.  In some cases, the purpose of these discussions is in order to “clean” student “dirty” notes (part of the Documentation Cycle).  Facilitators of learning can use periodic oral presentations (during the class period throughout the semester) or oral presentations as a final assessment; alternatively, poster presentations may be required. In addition, brief or detailed written reports may be required to assess individual or team‐based activities.  Since there are a plethora of options available to use in designing a Hi‐PeLE, this learning platform offers a multidimensional environment to assess students and makes the Hi‐PeLE a very rich environment to assist the students in their learning progress.  The nature of activities encountered in High Performance Learning Environments (Hi‐PeLE) often leads to a need for assessment techniques different than those of traditional lecture based courses. The Hi‐PeLE characteristics described above bring a challenge for the facilitator of learning in identifying an effective assessment approach with a goal of maximizing student learning. Certainly, traditional “mid‐terms” for the traditional based delivered courses are not the most efficient for Hi‐PeLE activities.  Instead, the facilitator of learning may want to take advantages of the multi‐dimensional nature of the Hi‐PeLE and use a variety of tools to assess student learning and progress. In order to make the most of the learning experience for the student, each type of activity requires a unique type of assessment and a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and summative types should be present.  For example, the manner in which an individual project is assessed may be focused on the technical content and writing whereas a team‐based project would also require an evaluation of the team itself including formation, managing, performance as an individual responsible for functions within the team, and overall team goals.  Moreover, assessment of teams can take on many different forms but should include a final evaluation by the team members themselves of their own performance in addition to the performance of their team mates. This is critical to the maturation of the student as a team player and to enhancement of the ability of the student to become an independent agent to learning.   ABET requirements to have a “direct” assessment is quite aligned with a Hi‐PeLE platform.  For example, poster presentations and oral presentations lend themselves well to review by “external” evaluators. Moreover, external evaluators can be utilized in the assessment of written reports and experimental prototypes, as well.  Evaluation of working prototypes can include the overall design, functionality, economics, and reproducibility.  The assessment may be focused on specific ABET criteria or on specific learning objectives for a course or both.  Clearly, there are numerous scenarios that can be used to constitute a High Performance Learning Environment; there are also many approaches to assessment of these activities.  This work will provide an overview of some of those techniques. 

Sauer, S. G., & Arce, P. E. (2011, June), Assessment in the High Performance Learning Environment Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17530

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