Asee peer logo

Development And Initial Experience With A Laptop Based Student Assessment System To Enhance Classroom Instruction

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.410.1 - 8.410.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Patrick Norris

author page

Duco Jansen

author page

Sean Brophy

Download Paper |

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

Session 1788

Development and Initial Experience with a Laptop-based Student Assessment System to Enhance Classroom Instruction

Brophy, S. P., Norris, P., Nichols, M., and Jansen, E. D.

Department of Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University


New principles of learning and instruction highlight the need to engage students in thoughtful use of knowledge. However, engaging individual engineering students in large classrooms simultaneously can be challenging. Classroom communication systems (CCS) encourage students to apply conceptual ideas during class, by allowing them to respond to questions using hand-held devices. A real time aggregate of their responses reported to the instructor and/or the class can provide valuable feedback to both to the instructor. The VaNTH (Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Texas, Harvard/MIT) Engineering Research Center for educational technologies has experimented with commercial versions of these systems with great success. However, such systems generally support only multiple-choice questions, and usually require proprietary hardware and software. We have developed a browser-based solution, the VaNTH Student Assessment System (VSAS), to provide richer modes of questioning and better utilize our existing technical infrastructure. VSAS allows for multiple choice, short answer, and essay responses to questions during class by using student’s wireless laptops as input devices. Free-text response capability may increase learning potential because students need to rely more on generating knowledge and less on routine recall of memorized information. Moreover, the system lends itself very well to implementation in models of challenge-based learning that include phases of generating ideas and revisiting initial intuition after instruction. Finally, VSAS compliments the engineering school’s initiative to embed the use of technology with classroom instruction through wireless network infrastructure and laptop computers to all students. This paper presents several examples illustrating the value added by using the short answer and essay features of VSAS. These cases highlight the instructional potential of question asking, benefits of immediate responses during in class instruction, and potential of tracking students’ progress.


Students need multiple opportunities to receive feedback on their current understanding. We have been experimenting with a commercially available classroom communications system (CCS)

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Norris, P., & Jansen, D., & Brophy, S. (2003, June), Development And Initial Experience With A Laptop Based Student Assessment System To Enhance Classroom Instruction Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11849

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015