June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
In the fall 2015 offering of a junior-level bioengineering signals and systems laboratory, students were encouraged to submit periodic progress reports for projects they were working on in order to receive feedback and guidance from the instructor. We observed significant improvements in written project report scores upon using these progress reports as well as upon providing additional timely feedback between projects. These progress reports prompted each group to explain their proposed solution, provide justification for it, display graphs, ask questions and raise potential concerns, and in general report on project progress. Progress reports were intended as a feedback and communication mechanism between groups and instructor; they were not mandatory or graded. The potential relationship between students’ engagement with the progress reports and achievement on the projects, and the observation that the progress reports became a build-as-you-go tool for some groups, prompting them to write snippets of the final report as they progressed with their analysis, has lead to the implementation of this tool during the fall 2016 semester. Similar to fall 2015, progress reports are intended for receiving feedback from the instructor but additionally they will be used as a stepping-stone to completing final reports. Students are encouraged to write snippets of their final report as they advance through various parts of a project and incorporate feedback/suggestions received by the instructor to fine-tune each snippet. The goal is to have the final report go through multiple revisions before it is ready for final submission. Teaching a process approach to writing—such as build-as-you-go—can support students in becoming professionally competent writers; such an approach often prompts for writing in draft stages and responds to or intervenes with each draft as required, demonstrating to students that writing should take place over time, in part to gain better control over the process. Written progress reports are one means to demonstrate to students that writing is a process that occurs in stages. Our progress reports (and project final report) require critical thinking and writing, in which students must draw and justify conclusions and arguments over time, elucidate assumptions, synthesize information, and present questions regarding uncertain items. Our hypothesis is that our build-as-you-go approach will lead to even greater achievement and performance in the fall 2016 on the open-ended laboratory project reports. A statistical comparison of the project scores will be done, and students’ reflective prompts will be qualitatively analyzed for insight into their problem solving processes. In addition, assessments of the students’ application of instructor feedback and the build-as-you-go approach, and their problem solving strategies will be gathered via semi-structured interview and included as part of the overall evaluation of this instructional approach.
Mahboobin, A., & Clark, R. M. (2017, June), Build As You Go: An Approach to Completing Laboratory Reports Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27982
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