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Mentoring with Index Cards: An Early Introduction to Formative Assessment for New Faculty

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Assessing Students and Programs

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1060.1 - 22.1060.9



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Paper Authors


John K. Estell Ohio Northern University

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John K. Estell is a Professor of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Ohio Northern University. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His areas of research include simplifying the outcomes assessment process, first-year engineering instruction, and the pedagogical aspects of writing computer games. Dr. Estell is a Senior Member of IEEE, and a member of ACM, ASEE, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon.

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Nathaniel Bird Ohio Northern University

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Nathaniel Bird is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering at Ohio Northern University. He received his doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota. His research interests include computer vision, robotics, behavior analysis, and undergraduate pedagogy. Dr. Bird is a member of ACM, IEEE, ASEE, and Tau Beta Pi.

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Firas Hassan Ohio Northern University

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Firas Hassan is an assistant professor at Ohio Northern University. He got his Ph.D. from The university of Akron. His research interest are in the area of embedded computing of real-time image processing techniques.

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Index Cards for Formative Assessment: a 3-by-5 Window into Student ConcernsAbstractAs educators, one of our goals is to provide a positive and effective learning experience for ourstudents. To assist in this effort, many institutions utilize student course evaluations at the end ofthe course featuring both quantitative and qualitative questions, thereby providing summativeassessment feedback to the instructor. Unfortunately, such feedback comes too late to effectcourse changes for the cohort providing the constructive criticism. An additional hazard is thatitems concerning an instructor’s teaching that could be easily corrected are not mentioned untilthe end-of-term anonymous evaluation, potentially resulting in lower evaluation scores. Forbeginning faculty members, such scores can have a negative impact upon the tenure process. Inthe pursuit of becoming an effective instructor, it is essential to employ a feedback mechanismthat provides for formative assessment, thereby allowing course adjustments to be made for thebenefit of the cohort furnishing the input. One formative assessment technique can beimplemented through the use of index cards. At key points during the term (for example, prior toan exam), an index card is distributed to each student at the beginning of class. The students arerequested to anonymously use the cards to indicate how things are going with the course, thenturn in the cards as they leave. Specifically, students are asked to fill the card out withinformation such as their concerns about the course, what questions they have that have not yetbeen answered, what concepts they are having difficulty with, their likes and/or dislikes aboutthe course – essentially, any items of information that they feel like providing the instructor sothat there is feedback that can be acted upon regarding what is and what is not working in thecourse.This paper will document the use of index cards as a formative assessment tool in three ways.First, three first-year faculty members will share their experiences with the use of index cards intheir classes and how this technique helped to improve their teaching. Second, an experiencedfaculty member will share his experiences with his continued use of this technique to better meetthe needs of his students. Finally, the use of this technique to provide a vehicle to foster amentoring relationship between junior and senior faculty members will be discussed. In all cases,the use of index cards has proven to be a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to improve thelearning environment for both students and instructors. 

Estell, J. K., & Bird, N., & Hassan, F. (2011, June), Mentoring with Index Cards: An Early Introduction to Formative Assessment for New Faculty Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18905

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