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Continued Experiments Using Flexible Assessment to Enhance Student Success

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Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE PSW Section Conference, canceled


Davis, California

Publication Date

April 30, 2020

Start Date

April 30, 2020

End Date

October 10, 2020

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Wayne Pilkington Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo

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Wayne Pilkington is an associate professor at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California.

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This paper describes our latest work with Flexible Assessment (FAST) techniques where we give students options in how the form and frequency of assessment affects their final course grade. In this work, we build upon previous successes to Flexible Assessment but also deal with some of the shortcomings of those approaches. While the previous approaches were generally well-received by students, we now focus on the areas where we can improve those approaches. The main negative issue with the previous approaches is that they provided a mechanism to a particular set of students to perform “below their abilities”. More specifically, the FAST approach essentially built-in the option to procrastinate, where students essentially delayed learning by delaying formal assessment.

Our main thought in our previous approaches to Flexible Assessment was that assessing students with quizzes or exams was not an active learning experience and therefore maybe not the best use of class time. We now realize that while the act of assessment is not learning, the preparation for that assessment (if actually accomplished by the student) can be a valid form of learning. Our new approach has seemingly removed the “fear of getting a bad grade” on an assessment, which was an issue we previously found to be an obstacle for students using weekly quizzes as “inspiration” to stay current with the course material. Our overall goals of Flexible Assessment remain the same, which is to enhance student success in a particular course by viewing students more holistically. Allowing students’ flexibility in their assessment enhances the inclusive nature of the course by allowing them to make better time-management decisions for their often busy schedules, which may include work, health maintenance, and social activities in addition their academic responsibilities.

Our new approach uses weekly quizzes as inspiration for students to stay current with the course material by viewing the assessment process as a mechanism to encourage learning by preparing for the quizzes. Our hope is that the act of students preparing for a quiz represents valid learning even if students chose not to include a particular quiz as part of their final grade. Similar to our previous approaches, the weighting of a given quiz transferred to the final exams if a student opted not to take the quiz or took the quiz and chose to have it not counted. This paper provides both a full description of our recent approach as well as the subsequent results.

Pilkington, W. (2020, April), Continued Experiments Using Flexible Assessment to Enhance Student Success Paper presented at Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE PSW Section Conference, canceled, Davis, California.

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