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Mode of Error Analysis of Student Responses to Pre-Requisite Knowledge Assessments

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1071.1 - 22.1071.13



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Paper Authors

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David B. Benson Kettering University

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Mode of Failure Analysis of Student Responses to Pre-Requisite Knowledge AssessmentsAbstractIn engineering education there are a number of central concepts and skills that form threadswhich connect one content area to another within a discipline. These threads form the core of anengineering education and are the scaffold upon which all future knowledge is built. Anincomplete understanding in any of one of these concepts at an early stage in a student’seducation can lead to a cascade of failures or difficulties that resonate throughout their academiccareer. Although a program of study is designed so that students entering a given class havesuccessfully completed all of the pre-requisite course material to attempt the class, student recalland understanding of prior content varies. A longitudinal study is in progress to assess studentabilities and growth in these key threads.Current research has identified and mapped a number of central content and skill trajectories thatare present in engineering education, focusing primarily on science and math content/skillsessential to Mechanical Engineering. Several of these key content topics and skills have beenassessed using pre-tests along their trajectories for selected classes. Common student errors(modes of failure) within these assessments have been identified and classified to generate aprofile of the error modes for each topic. These modes of failure are indicative of cognitiveissues such as transposition of skills, incomplete understanding of underlying concepts, and thedisassociation of tool and concept. A severity of error scale has been developed and applied tostudent responses to facilitate the correlation of relationships between success and failure amongthe different trajectories. Results indicate that for many topics the types of errors encounteredare shared by large numbers of students. Relationships between failures and the persistence offailures as students progress throughout the curriculum are presented. Validation of the errormodes has been conducted through inter-rater reliability studies and student interviews.

Benson, D. B. (2011, June), Mode of Error Analysis of Student Responses to Pre-Requisite Knowledge Assessments Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18997

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