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Criterion Based Grading For Learning And Assessment In Unit Operations Laboratory

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.313.1 - 6.313.8



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Paper Authors

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Douglas Goetz

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Darin Ridgway

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Ben Stuart

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Valerie Young

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Michael Prudich

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

Session 3213

Criterion-Based Grading for Learning and Assessment in Unit Operations Laboratory

V.L. Young, D. Ridgway, M.E. Prudich, D.J. Goetz, and B.J. Stuart Department of Chemical Engineering, Ohio University


Goals for student learning in Unit Operations Laboratory are diverse. Students are to develop skills in the planning and execution of experiments, the interpretation of experimental data, and the communication of technical information. Additional goals include gaining familiarity with process equipment, improving teamwork skills, and developing professional habits in safety, documentation, and planning. Each laboratory report grade represents an amalgamated assessment of students’ progress towards all goals, so it cannot be used to assess progress towards any of them. Assessing student progress in our course is additionally complicated because students rotate through experiments supervised and graded by different professors.

A criterion-based grading system, inspired by Walvood and Anderson’s Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment,1 was introduced at Ohio University. A standard grading sheet for all experiments specifies “traits” indicative of progress towards each course goal (e.g., the student’s proposed test matrix indicates ability to design an experiment) and criteria for grading each trait. The purpose of the grading sheet is threefold: (1) Guide student learning by specifying the traits of a good laboratory report. (2) Improve consistency in grading and feedback to students by specifying the key traits to be considered. (3) Collect data to assess student progress towards course goals.

Success in achieving the three-fold purpose is being evaluated via student surveys, conversations with faculty, and the assessment data provided by the grading instrument itself. The results of this evaluation are the subject of this presentation.


At Ohio University, Unit Operations Laboratory (UO Lab) is a two-quarter sequence for seniors in chemical engineering. The laboratory is equipped with pilot-scale versions of process equipment and with experimental setups for exploring particular concepts in chemical engineering. Standard laboratory and “plant floor” equipment (graduated cylinders, analytical balances, pipettes, buckets, scales, stopwatches) is also available. UO Lab is a “capstone” experience in which students must integrate and apply previous coursework. Extensive written and oral technical communication is required. Each experiment is motivated by a “design objective”. Students must identify the parameters to be determined experimentally, plan and execute the required experiments, analyze the data and interpret the results, and complete the

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Goetz, D., & Ridgway, D., & Stuart, B., & Young, V., & Prudich, M. (2001, June), Criterion Based Grading For Learning And Assessment In Unit Operations Laboratory Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9057

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