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Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation by Replacing Homework with Assignment-Quizzes

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Tips and Tricks for Assessing Student Performance

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

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Paper Authors


David Edward Schmidt University of Pittsburgh

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Dr. David Schmidt is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering in the department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. His research interests are focused in the areas of computational simulation, additive manufacturing techniques and soft tissue biomechanics. He has broad industrial experience in materials processing, mechanical design and constitutive material model development. Dr. Schmidt is active is in the advancement of undergraduate education through the development of innovative active learning methods.

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David V.P. Sanchez University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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David Sanchez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Assistant Director for the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. He directs the Sustainable Design Labs that is currently focused on fusing sustainability principles and design thinking to address the Water and Energy grand challenges in the natural and built environment. Current projects include: Renewable electrode materials for Microbial Fuel Cells and the Electro-Fenton process, Recirculating Aquaponic Systems, Environmental Quality wireless sensor networks, and incorporating Sustainable Design/Innovation into engineering curricula.

He serves as a director for Pitt’s Design EXPO and a variety of the Mascaro Center’s Sustainability Outreach and Education programs including the Manchester Academic Charter School “Green week” and the Teach the Teacher program, impacting thousands of students each year. Dr. Sanchez teaches Introduction to Sustainable Water Technology and Design, classes in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and the Swanson School of Engineering First-Year program. He works directly with K-12 initiatives and outreach programs including Constellation Energy Inventor Labs, ReMake Learning Network, and INVESTING Now.

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Samuel J. Dickerson University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Samuel Dickerson is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. His general research interests lie in the area of electronics, circuits and embedded systems and in particular, technologies in those areas that have biomedical applications. He has expertise in the design and simulation of mixed-signal integrated circuits and systems that incorporate the use of both digital and analog electronics, as well as optics, microfluidics and devices that interface to the biological world. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh faculty he was a co-founder and the president of Nanophoretics LLC, where he led the research and development of a novel dielectrophoresis-based lab-on-chip technology for rapidly detecting drug-resistant bacteria strains. Dr. Dickerson is also interested in enhancing undergraduate engineering education, and investigates new and innovative methods for improving the learning experience for electrical and computer engineering students.

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Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation by Replacing Homework with Assignment-Quizzes

Digital access to data and reference materials has reshaped student learning and problem solving habits. The ability to query databases and forums for answers to daily questions invites students to believe that engineering solutions too, should be available with the potential to be leveraged in their education. These paradigms present challenges for cultivating student motivation, maintaining academic integrity and, ensuring deeper learning objectives are met because they invite the habit of “searching” for solutions instead of producing them. This study evaluates a paradigm shift with respect to course assessments by using Assignment-Quizzes as an innovative means to improve student engagement.

For each course, students are provided an inventory of problems along with detailed solutions and supplemental explanations as worked out by the instructor. Within a week, the instructor offers a quiz that includes a problem directly from the inventory. This method was motivated by the belief that providing reference material allows students to shift their focus and energy from searching for solutions to engaging the solution process thus enabling them to operate within a higher cognitive domain – shifting from understanding to application, analysis and evaluation. The quiz assessment replaces the homework weight for the course thereby transforming the manner in which the instructor assesses student work product (i.e. precludes the prevalence of copying solutions). Along with each problem inventory, a “challenge problem” is given for which no solutions are provided. This problem is open-ended in nature and builds upon the concepts in the basic inventory. Scaffolding for the “challenge” is presented during lecture and students are encouraged work in teams to submit to a solution. This technique is well suited for new instructors looking to increase student engagement and motivation.

Three separate engineering classes from three separate departments (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering) simultaneously adopted Assignment-Quizzes. An anonymous survey was used to collect information on student perceptions using Likert scales and prompts such as “I am more likely to study because of Assignment-Quizzes” and to gauge confidence, interest and motivation. With a response rate over 55% across all three departments, the analysis of 178 responses show that about 70% of respondents across disciplines report improved confidence and engagement with the material and over 80% of all respondents, across disciplines, “Agree” and or “Strongly Agree” that they learn from Assignment-Quizzes. Over 55% of respondents indicate a stronger interest in the material because of Assignment-Quizzes and over 75% of all respondents indicate a stronger interest in their fields of study.

Schmidt, D. E., & Sanchez, D. V., & Dickerson, S. J. (2017, June), Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation by Replacing Homework with Assignment-Quizzes Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28519

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