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Curiosities Regarding Exam Review Sessions at LSU's College of Engineering

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Exploring Research Methodologies in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Charles Algeo Wilson IV Louisiana State University

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Charles is a PhD student in Environmental Sciences at Louisiana State University. In 2012, he earned his master’s degree in Medical and Health Physics and has since been working towards a PhD. During his studies, he has worked actively with the LSU STEM Talent and Expansion Program and LSU Center for Academic Success helping with different methods that aim to improve how STEM college students learn including tutorial centers, PLTL, SI, and recitation programs.

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Adrienne Steele Louisiana State University

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Adrienne Steele has over 15 years experience in STEM education. Currently, Adrienne works at Louisiana State University, managing all aspects of the STEP project that consists of a large-scale peer mentoring program in the College of Engineering. Previously, she founded and coordinated the Scope-On-A-Rope Outreach Program (SOAR) in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she worked for 10 years. Prior to her positions at LSU, Adrienne was the Science Education Curator at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge. Adrienne has a Master of Science degree in zoology from LSU, where she studied in the Museum of Natural Science collections, and an Education Specialist Certification in science education.

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Warren N. Waggenspack Jr. Louisiana State University

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Warren N. Waggenspack, Jr. is currently the Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Program Director and holder of the Ned Adler Professorship in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at Louisiana State University. He obtained both his baccalaureate and master's degrees from LSU ME and his doctorate from Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering. He has been actively engaged in teaching, research and curricula development since joining the LSU faculty in 1988. Over the last 12 years, he acquired funding from NSF to support the development of several initiatives aimed at improving student retention and graduation rates as well as supporting faculty with development of effective learning and teaching pedagogies.

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James Blake Gegenheimer

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James Gegenheimer is an MSME Candidate in Mechanical Engineering at LSU. When graduated, James will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He will be stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, Utah. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. through the Air Force and work with the Air Force Weapons Research Laboratory.
James is currently a Supplemental Instructor at LSU for Thermodynamics where he has served since 2013. He has worked to improve how STEM college students learn through the use of active learning.

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Success using the Supplemental Instruction model has previously been reported in the College of Engineering at XX. Supplemental Instruction has been offered for numerous engineering courses over the last 3 years, with sessions being held each week throughout the semester (defined as normal sessions) as well as the within a few days before a class exam (defined as exam review sessions). Many SI Leaders consistently report difficulties during exam review sessions due to several factors: student attendance in these sessions is much larger, many of the attending students are unfamiliar with active learning methods and so are not as willing to participate (because they do not attend SI sessions on a regular basis), and there is a perception that some students are depending on the exam review as their major source of preparation for a test. This led XX to question if the exam review sessions were equally as helpful as regular SI sessions, or are they possibly hurting the success of the SI program as a whole. Previous research at XX created three groups to analyze general success of the SI program–students with no session attendance, little attendance (1-3 sessions), and regular attendance (4 or more sessions). The low attendance category at the time was, in part, defined by the expectation that some students would only go to exam reviews; since there are generally1-3 exam reviews offered for each course, that particular cutoff was chosen for this group. For this research, attendance data were categorized as either exam review sessions or normal sessions. These attendance records were then placed into bins of percent attendance to compare with passing rates and course grades. Both normal sessions and exam review sessions showed positive, linear correlations with passing rate; however, the percent attendance for normal sessions had a statistically greater impact on overall course success than the percent attendance for exam reviews. Upon first examination of these results the findings appeared to show that exam review sessions are not as helpful as normal sessions, but with further reflection, it was decided that this comparison was not illustrating the full picture. While there are only 1-3 exam reviews held each semester, there can be up to 24 normal sessions held during the same time period for the same course; this is a difference between approximately six hours of session time for exam reviews compared to as much as thirty six possible hours of session time for normal sessions. By multiplying percent attendance of each group by the amount of time in which sessions were held, we were able to see the big picture of how the number of hours spent in these types of sessions affects passing rates. Results showed that exam reviews were had a larger impact on passing rates than normal sessions. In other words, students who only spent a couple of hours in SI sessions over the semester were better off if their time was spent in an exam review session. This finding was unexpected and has raised further questions regarding the impact of exam review sessions on student success.

Wilson, C. A., & Steele, A., & Waggenspack, W. N., & Gegenheimer, J. B. (2016, June), Curiosities Regarding Exam Review Sessions at LSU's College of Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26619

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