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Improvement in Student Learning Objectives from Group Discussions Between Exam Sittings

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Statics Fanatics 1

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Paper Authors


Adam Powell Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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I am an Associate Professor in the Mechanical & Materials Engineering department, having joined the WPI faculty in August 2018. My field is materials processing, and research focuses on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, elimination, and drawdown. Current projects aim to reduce vehicle body weight, lower solar cell manufacturing energy use and cost with improved safety, reduce or eliminate aviation greenhouse gas impact, power ships and trains with zero emissions, and improve grid stability as we drive toward 100% renewables. The primary tool for achieving these goals is mathematical modeling of metal processes, particularly electrochemical processes, validated by key experiments.

I currently teach Materials Processing, Analytical Methods, and Statics. All of my classes use tests with two sittings, a practice which appears to improve learning outcomes via peer learning between the two sittings, as described by a paper at ASEE 2022. And drawing from 50 years of project based learning scholarship at WPI, most of my classes include a team project, though I haven't yet figured out how to scale this to classes larger than 50 students.

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Kimberly Lechasseur Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Kimberly LeChasseur is a Research & Evaluation Associate with the Center for Project-Based Learning and the Morgan Teaching & Learning Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her PhD is in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. Prior to joining WPI, she was on faculty at the Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, where she taught foundations of education and qualitative methods.

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Sarah Wodin-Schwartz Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Prof. Wodin-Schwartz is passionate about teaching core engineering and critical thinking skills that apply to application driven problem solving. She is excited to work with students to help them understand not only the technical skills required of them as engineers but also the social, environmental, and physical implications of implementing technical engineering solutions. Her work with adding context to problems and projects her courses has lead her to receive teaching awards including the Russell M. Searle and Morgan Distinguished Instructorships in Mechanical Engineering, the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award, and the KEEN Rising Star Award.

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Students learn well by correcting their mistakes. Some engineering classes have offered students an opportunity to earn credit for redoing incorrect answers on exams. Professors may allow students to revise their responses to the same set of questions with or without additional support; for example, feedback may point students to specific references to revisit. This paper will describe one approach to this practice which leverages the power of peer learning.

An Introduction to Statics course with 96 students was taught by the first author in Fall 2021. The class ran for seven weeks, which is the typical quarter term for the university. In-class work included lectures four times per week, hands-on activities approximately once per week, and two in-class exams, which each had two sittings 2-3 days apart.

Students were allowed to bring one sheet of notes to exams, with no interaction permitted between students. Students turned in this sheet along with exam solutions. The instructor encouraged students to then take the exam questions to group study sessions before the second exam sitting. At the second sitting, they received a fresh sheet of exam questions with minor clarification updates, their notes sheet, and their graded first sitting exams, and could write new solutions to problem sub-parts which they previously answered incorrectly. The class grade used the mean of the first and second sitting scores.

This paper uses non-experimental methods to address the research question: To what extent does peer learning between exam sittings impact gains in student learning and self-efficacy? A sample of 85 students (representing an 89% response rate) participated in the study. Data were collected using the Student Assessment of their Learning Gains (SALG) tool, which is a validated retrospective survey developed with support from the NSF (DUE 0920801) as a less-biased alternative to course evaluations. The survey asks students to assess their growth toward each student learning objective, as well as the contribution of each learning activity to their learning gains.

A series of correlations reveal small to moderate positive relationships between group discussions between test sittings and several student learning outcomes (e.g., identifying what type of problem you are asked to solve; working effectively with others). A series of hierarchical regression models were constructed to assess whether group discussions between test sittings was still a significant predictor of student learning gains after controlling for their gains in self-efficacy and learning from attending lectures. Five outcomes are significantly predicted by peer learning between exam sittings even after controlling for self-efficacy gains and the learning from attending lecture: identifying what type of problem you are asked to solve, working effectively with others, how studying this subject area helps address real world issues, planning to take additional engineering classes, and willingness to seek help from others on academic problems.

Powell, A., & Lechasseur, K., & Wodin-Schwartz, S. (2022, August), Improvement in Student Learning Objectives from Group Discussions Between Exam Sittings Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41771

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