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Continuous Monitoring And Class Performance

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.122.1 - 1.122.7



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Paper Authors

author page

N.W. Scott

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B.J. Stone

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

Session 2220

Continuous monitoring and class performance

N.W. Scott & B.J. Stone The University of Western Australia

Abstract these classes tutors observed a marked downturn in both Most lecturers faced with large classes find it difficult to attendance and the quantity of work submitted. In a sample of know the current state of the class. For example, are there a 53 students from one tutor’s classes in 1990 and 1991 there significant number of students who are not keeping up or was a strong correlation between non-participation in the having extreme difficulty with a topic? If problem classes tutorials and failing the unit. are provided for smaller groups then sometimes feedback We assert that this syndrome is fairly common. One may get to the lecturer. However, often the students at risk interpretation is that after four weeks of classes students do not even attend such classes, perhaps wishing to be saved begin to realise that no-one is ‘watching’ them to ensure any embarrassment. The consequences, particularly at first attendance and compliance; and being busy, they choose to year level, are that many of these students fail. At the spend their time elsewhere. It is also possible that these University of Western Australia an attempt has been made to students discover that the problem classes do not ‘work’ for address the two problems noted above (feedback to lecturers them: that they are too difficult, or too noisy, or that the tutor and identifying students at risk). This has been achieved for is on a different wavelength – and then opt to study in some a first year engineering dynamics class which historically other environment, such as the cafeteria. students have found hard. All example problems are now What is our response to this situation? The tutorial model presented on a computer with the same questions for each used in many maths/science subjects has been around for a student but with unique numerical values. Students type in long time: is it now suddenly failing to meet the students’ their answer and are required to get a problem correct needs? If so, do we moralise about good study habits, or do before being allowed to proceed on to the next. we change the tutorial system to make it both profitable and Approximately two out of ten problems are formally unavoidable? If we adapt the system to the peculiarities assessed and contribute to 20% of the mark for the unit. The (failings?) of students, are we pandering to them when computer provides diagnostic help on all non-assessed discipline is in order? Do we reinforce or even sanction problems. A server records all student responses and inappropriate adult behaviour by removing the element of various displays are instantly available to the lecturer so that free will? the class may be continuously monitored. This paper Our approach has been to attempt to introduce changes to describes the methodology for this approach and discusses improve the match between learner and teaching system, the outcomes for lecturers and students. making use of new technologies where appropriate. Our most significant ‘experiment’ in this area was to require the 1 Background Dynamics class of 1995 to interact with a computer-based The starting point for the developments described here is tutorial system we developed (see Devenish 1995 for more that most students are opportunistic: that they will generally information about this system). This paper focuses on the do whatever they perceive is necessary to ‘get through’, or part of the tutorial system that monitored the class as a whole as Ellison (1992) politely puts it, ‘assessment draws and the progress of each student in particular, and the effect learning through a course’. Students are under a lot of that this policy had on the life of the class. pressure and they generally develop survival strategies which are not in harmony with deep academic exploration. Serving software Server In the years before 1995 the engineering dynamics course at UWA was taught using a fairly common tutorial model: groups of perhaps twenty students with one postgraduate tutor. Each week every student was expected to attend two one-hour classes of this kind, and each week there was a HyperCard HyperCard HyperCard Stack 1 Stack 1 Stack 1 Client new assignment sheet with two to four quite difficult Stack 2 Stack 2 computers Stack 2 problems. Students were told to attempt these problems and .... .... .... hand the results in to the tutor for feedback; however no formal ‘marks’ were attached to this important work or for Figure 1 Schematic relationship between client and server attendance at the problem classes. After the first month of computers.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Scott, N., & Stone, B. (1996, June), Continuous Monitoring And Class Performance Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5939

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