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Multidimensional Tool For Assessing Student Team Solutions To Model Eliciting Activities

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Measurement Tools

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.891.1 - 14.891.29



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Paper Authors


Heidi Diefes-Dux Purdue University

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Heidi Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-Year Engineering Program at Purdue. She coordinated (2000-2006) and continues to teach in the required first-year engineering problem solving and computer tools course. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with realistic engineering contexts.

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Matthew Verleger Purdue University

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Matthew Verleger is a doctoral candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering and his M.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, both from Purdue University. His research interests are on how students develop mathematical modeling skills through the use of model-eliciting activities and peer review as a pedagogical tool.

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Judith Zawojewski Illinois Institute of Technology

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Judith Zawojewski is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Science Education at Illinois Institute of Technology. She received a B.S.Ed. in Mathematics and Education at Northwestern University, a M.S.Ed in Mathematics Education from National College of Education, and a Ph.D. in Education at Northwestern University. Judith teaches mathematics education courses to practicing teachers and doctoral students. Her research interest is in the use models and modeling for the development of problem solving experiences as sites for research and assessment in the context of program improvement.

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Margret Hjalmarson George Mason University

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Margret Hjalmarson is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at George Mason University. She received a B.A. in Mathematics from Mount Holyoke College, an M.S. in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Purdue University. She teaches mathematics education courses for teachers and mathematics specialists in the Mathematics Education Leadership master's and doctoral programs. Her research interests are in students' learning of mathematics in engineering, design-based research, curriculum, and assessment.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Multi-Dimensional Tool for Assessing Student Team Solutions to Model-Eliciting Activities


The effective use of open-ended problems requires reliable and high quality instructor feedback and assessment to substantially boost the quality of student learning and work products. Model- Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are open-ended, realistic, client-driven problems set in engineering contexts requiring teams of students to create a generalizable (shareable, reusable, modifiable) mathematical model for solving the client’s problem. Two significant challenges are associated with the assessment of student team solutions to MEAs: (1) evaluation reliability among multiple instructors and (2) fidelity to what is valued in engineering practice. In this paper, we describe the dimensions of a new assessment tool used by graduate teaching assistants to assess student team work on MEAs in a required first-year engineering course, and we demonstrate its application to a specific MEA implemented in Fall 2008. Further, we assess the reliability of the tool by comparing its application by new and returning graduate teaching assistants to that of an Expert. Finally, we discuss how the results of this study are informing subsequent revisions to the tool and graduate teaching assistant professional development with MEAs.

I. Introduction

The need for engineering curricula that develops students’ teaming and communication skills, proficiency in engineering science and design, and abilities to address open-ended problems replete with ambiguity and uncertainty is well recognized1,2. Such curricula should engage students in authentic learning experiences that reflect engineering practice. High quality and reliable feedback and assessment strategies must accompany these learning experiences to ensure that student learning is achieved (e.g. misconceptions are addressed) and the quality of student work increasingly reflects what is valued in engineering practice.

Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are one instructional approach to developing these and other competencies3,4. These client-driven, open-ended, team-oriented problems have been implemented in a large (N = 1200-1600) required first-year engineering problem solving and computer tools course since Fall 20025,6. Over 20 different MEAs have been implemented and a number of feedback and assessment strategies have been employed with varying degrees of success6. What these strategies lacked was a clear articulation of core elements of performance valued in engineering practice that could be translated into a rubric (and supporting materials) that could be reliably applied by the 18-20 graduate teaching assistants responsible for assessing student work.

As part of a larger study, a panel of engineering experts identified three core elements of performance for student team work on any MEA: ≠ Appropriateness of the mathematical model. The complexity of the problem must be addressed in the mathematical model. ≠ Attention to audience. The product should clearly and effectively communicate the model to the client. Share-ability is another term used to describe this idea.

Diefes-Dux, H., & Verleger, M., & Zawojewski, J., & Hjalmarson, M. (2009, June), Multidimensional Tool For Assessing Student Team Solutions To Model Eliciting Activities Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5213

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