June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Educational Research and Methods
In this evidence-based, teaching-practice paper, we discuss the assessment methods we have applied to the broad curricular changes implemented within our department. Our department is fundamentally changing the chemical engineering curriculum by threading Community-, Industry-, Research-, and/or Entrepreneurship-based design challenges through the core curriculum, engaging students in writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC), offering faculty professional development workshops, and implementing a digital badging system to help students take ownership of their competencies. Such dramatic changes to department structure and course requirements mandate carefully selected and consistent assessment practices throughout the program. This project has thus far tracked a variety of qualitative and quantitative measures across one year of baseline data and two years of project implementation with numerous student cohorts. The methods used for tracking and comparing student sentiment, confidence, beliefs, skill development, and technical skill performance include: (1) demographics, (2) assessments of conceptual knowledge (i.e., two concept inventories and three faculty-developed proficiency exams), (3) a survey that assesses design self-efficacy and other course-specific assessments, (4) written design skills tests that measure design problem framing ability, and (5) student observations and interviews. These assessment methods are distributed and administered throughout the four-year degree program. This paper outlines and describes these assessment tools and methods and how they are used to measure outcomes. The analysis of some of these methods is also discussed here.
As a “Research Universities (Highest Research Activity)” university, the students in our program are atypically diverse compared to those found at other schools of this type: 43% are women; 33% speak a language other than English at home; 28% are first-generation college attendees; and 52% of students’ mothers and 48% of their fathers have not earned a college degree. On average, 52% of students work more than 10 hours per week while in college, 27% are from lower income families, 45% are Latinx, and 5% are Native American.
We found that students’ performance on conceptual measures neither significantly improved nor declined as a result of curricular changes. This suggests that even as more class time focused on projects and writing, students still learned core content. Overall, based on post-course survey results, students in redesigned courses reported significantly higher design self-efficacy, compared to students in the original courses (t (248) = 2.18, p < .03). Compared to baseline results, students who completed design challenges developed a more accurate understanding of the iterative nature of the design process.
The breadth of qualitative and quantitative assessment tools used throughout this program are instrumental in helping us determine the outcome of these faculty and curricular changes, the results of which are used to continuously shape the direction of future programmatic pedagogical changes.
Miletic, M., & Svihla, V., & Gomez, J., & Chi, E., & Han, S. M., & Hubka, C. A., & Chen, Y., & Kang, S. P., & Datye, A. K. (2019, June), Assessment of Program-wide Curricular Change Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32128
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