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The Diary Of A Mad Student: Exam Diaries And Other Evaluation Schemes

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Pedagogy and Assessment in ECE II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1219.1 - 15.1219.13



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Paper Authors


Rosalind Wynne Villanova University

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Rosalind Wynne received her doctorate in electrical engineering from Boston University in May 2005, a M.S. in electrical engineering from
Boston University in 2001 and a B.S. in physics from Norfolk State University in 1999. She recently received a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at Villanova University, Villanova, PA in the Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering. Her current research interests include developing fiber optic sensors based on microstructured optical fiber technology for chemical sensing and biomedical applications.
Dr. Wynne is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the Optical Society of America (OSA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

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

The Diary of a Mad Student: Exam Diaries and Other Evaluation Schemes


The human cerebral cortex structure supports functions such as 1) sensing, 2) generalizing and 3) evaluating, which are important to the learning process.1 This presentation demonstrates reflective activities that support the natural connection between the brain structure and the learning cycle.2 Activities such as reviewing ideas in journaling exercises for a mathematically rigorous engineering course will be addressed. These techniques are often limited to design- courses that develop “soft-skills” in engineers. Conventional courses, however, subscribe to traditional teaching methods with fewer opportunities for student reflection. Examples of unconventional reflective journaling activities employed in an engineering course that addressed modern physics concepts and semiconductor material topics will be highlighted in this paper.

The teaching and learning model for this course was based on the established theory of the Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle.2 Exam journaling activities were adopted to support the reflective observation phase of the theoretical model and were directly assessed from the exam performance of the student. The journaling exercise required students to re-work any exam problems that the student incorrectly answered and to provide a brief statement that explains the thought process of the student that led to the incorrect solution in the preliminary computational answers to the exam.

Direct assessments of the reflective learning activities are provided in terms of exam results as well as insight to which activities that are supportive and unsupportive of the learning process. Several schemes were used to support and assess the learning needs of the student including simulation activities, in-class exercises and exams. Our preliminary results show that providing sample exam resources without reflective exercises presents the student with a false sense of learning and ultimately poor exam performances. As expected, when reflective journaling supplemented such resources, exam scores improved. As a result, students began to make the connection between the abstract theoretical concepts and familiar physical phenomena.

1 Introduction

Reflective skills are important to the development of both hard and soft skills of an engineer.3,4 Such skills can help students practice newly acquired analysis tools as well as assist them in learning from their mistakes. The study presented in this article will provide the results of using reflective activities important to the learning process of engineering students in an advanced technical and mathematically rigorous course. A brief course description is given to establish course expectations placed on the student as well as the practical relevancy of the class. The teaching and learning model presented by Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle2 and its adaptation in the Natural Learning Cycle1 was employed in this course. This work contains the teaching and learning objectives established in this course and examples of reflective journal activities related to written exams. The methods used to assess the student comprehension of the core concepts of the course and future recommendations to enhance the learning process will be discussed.

Wynne, R. (2010, June), The Diary Of A Mad Student: Exam Diaries And Other Evaluation Schemes Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16145

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