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Student-centered and Teacher-friendly Formative Assessment in Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Cynthia Furse University of Utah Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Cynthia Furse (PhD ’94) is the Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Utah and a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Furse teaches / has taught electromagnetics, wireless communication, computational electromagnetics, microwave engineering, circuits, and antenna design. She is a leader and early developer of the flipped classroom, and began flipping her classes in 2007. She is now regularly engaged helping other faculty flip their classes (see Dr. Furse’s research has led to the development of a system to locate intermittent electrical wiring faults, and she is a founder of LiveWire Innovation. Her research also includes development of antennas to communicate with medical implants, and methods to predict statistical variability in bioelectromagnetic applications. Dr. Furse is a Fellow of the IEEE and the National Academy of Inventors. She has received numerous teaching and research awards including the Harriett B. Rigas Medal for Excellence in Teaching.

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Donna Harp Ziegenfuss University of Utah Orcid 16x16

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Donna Harp Ziegenfuss, is an Associate Librarian in Graduate and Undergraduate Services in the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah. She has an Ed.D. in Academic Leadership/Higher Education and an MS degree in Applied Technology/Instructional Design. She has over 10 years of experience teaching, designing instruction, and doing qualitative research both in and outside of a library context. Her research interests focus on library and technology-based instructional planning and course design, assessment and evaluation topics, as well as online teaching and learning.

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Student-centered teaching employs active learning strategies that engage students in ways that meet their individual learning needs. When adapting from a teaching-centered pedagogy to a student-centered pedagogy, faculty must also make changes to the assessment strategies they use; student-centered teaching requires student-centered assessment. In addition to summative assessment that measures student learning and knowledge through traditional products such as exams, quizzes and papers, formative assessment evaluates the process of learning, and the experience of the individual student. Understanding this student experience can be extremely valuable to both the student and the faculty member, particularly when using a teaching strategy that is new to both.

This paper describes a qualitative action research project to learn about the student course experience and help the faculty improve the course. This project methodology uses a simple and efficient formative approach that incorporates strategic and continuous open-ended survey questions in optional feedback assignments to gauge the student experience across the course. Data were collected in the course learning management system (LMS) for multiple sections in a freshman Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering (first circuits) course using a flipped pedagogy across four years and with three different instructors. These assessments focused on identifying challenges to learning, or “Muddiest Points” and student perceptions about classroom strategies and general learning/academic concerns. Simply asking ”What can I do to help you learn better? What can you do to learn better?” helped students reflect on their learning behaviors, and in many cases, improved their experience throughout the course. This strategy provided an opportunity for students to take more responsibility for their learning and voice their feedback about the course. The assessments also helped the faculty member improve the course in real time. With this approach, the instructor also identified a number of learning bottlenecks, where a significant number of students were having problems. This very simple formative assessment strategy proved to be a powerful tool for creating a student-centered course. Findings from this study included providing the instructors: (1) a transparent map of the student learning processes; (2) evidence of changing perceptions about the flipped classroom across the course; (3) confirmation of the value of faculty student centered approaches; and (4) the revelation of lessons learned by reflecting students. Recommendations from students will also be discussed. It should be noted that this paper focuses on the student experience in what was generally their first flipped class, and (because they were freshmen) also one of their first college classes.

Furse, C., & Ziegenfuss, D. H. (2018, June), Student-centered and Teacher-friendly Formative Assessment in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31019

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