Asee peer logo

Does the Use of Cumulative and Practice Tests Further Improve a Blended STEM Classroom?

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: Pedagogy I - Best Teaching Practices

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Autar Kaw University of South Florida

visit author page

Autar Kaw is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He is a recipient of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award (doctoral and research universities) from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching. Professor Kaw’s main scholarly interests are in engineering education research, adaptive, blended and flipped learning, open courseware development, and the state and future of higher education. Funded by National Science Foundation, under Professor Kaw's leadership, he and his colleagues from around the nation have developed, implemented, refined, and assessed online resources for an open courseware in Numerical Methods. This courseware annually receives 1,000,000+ page views, 2,000,000+ views of the YouTube lectures, and 90,000+ visitors to the "numerical methods guy" blog. He has written more than 100 refereed technical papers and his opinion editorials have appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune and Chronicle Vitae. His work has been covered/cited/quoted in many media outlets including Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, U.S. Congressional Record, WUSF, Florida Senate Resolution, ASEE Prism, and Voice of America.

visit author page


Renee M. Clark University of Pittsburgh

visit author page

Renee Clark is Research Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Director of Assessment for the Engineering Education Research Center (EERC) in the Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh. She conducts research on education projects that focus on active learning and engineering professional development. Current research includes the propagation of active learning throughout the Swanson School and the use of systematic reflection and metacognitive activities within coursework. She received the Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and the MS in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western. She has over 25 years of experience as an engineer and analyst in industry and academia. She completed her post-doctoral studies in engineering education at the University of Pittsburgh.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The first author has been teaching a junior-level Mechanical Engineering Numerical Methods course since 1987 and formally so in a blended modality since 2002. The recent blended class (control group-Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017) used approximately one-third of the class time for active learning activities such as think-pair-share exercises administered using clickers, in-class procedural exercises, and outlining of programming projects and applied exercises. Most of these exercises was collected for a grade in the class. Some applied exercises though were taken home by students and graded after submission, as were the completed programming projects. Because the active learning activities displaced the coverage of some content, students were assigned online digital audiovisual lectures and textbook readings for the rest of the content on a topic. To ensure students had gained an initial understanding of the whole topic, automatically graded online quizzes with no more than three questions were assigned. The final examination average score of 54% for the traditional class improved to 62% for the blended class (d=0.8; p<=0.008).

Can we improve the blended class even further by using other evidence-based learning strategies not used so far in the classroom, or would there be a limited effect of these interventions? Would having cumulative tests (forces distributed and interleaved practice) and giving practice tests (mean effect size=0.74 in a metastudy) further increase the cognitive student learning gains? How would it affect the current classroom environment?

The students in the Fall 2019 semester form the experimental group. Data will be available for analysis at the end of the semester, and we will have complete results for the draft paper. To compare cognitive learning, we will use a final examination that has multiple-choice (lower level thinking) and free-response (higher-level thinking) questions. To compare the classroom environment, we will use the well established, validated and reliable College and University Classroom Environment Inventory (CUCEI). This inventory measures seven psychosocial dimensions of the classroom environment including personalization, involvement, task orientation, and individualization. The current paper adds to extensive published knowledge on the blended and flipped classrooms for numerical methods by the authors.

Kaw, A., & Clark, R. M. (2020, June), Does the Use of Cumulative and Practice Tests Further Improve a Blended STEM Classroom? Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34479

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: © 2020 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