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The Effects of Second-Chance Testing on Learning Outcomes in a First-Year STEM Course in Engineering

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Course Transformation in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Christopher D. Schmitz University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Christopher D. Schmitz is a Teaching Associate Professor, Chief Undergraduate Adviser and an Education Innovation Fellow (EIF) in the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. An Electrical Engineer, his research interests include algorithmic fault-tolerant adaptive systems, software defined radio, multi-user cellular communication, electrically-small devices, and pedagogies of teaching and learning. An amateur beekeeper, he mentors a project for applying engineering solutions to the plight of honeybees.

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Geoffrey L. Herman University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Geoffrey L. Herman is a teaching associate professor with the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also has a courtesy appointment as a research assistant professor with the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Mavis Future Faculty Fellow and conducted postdoctoral research with Ruth Streveler in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. His research interests include creating systems for sustainable improvement in engineering education, conceptual change and development in engineering students, and change in faculty beliefs about teaching and learning.

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Timothy Bretl University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Timothy Bretl is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his B.S. in Engineering and B.A. in Mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1999, and his M.S. in 2000 and Ph.D. in 2005 both in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. Subsequently, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, also at Stanford University. He has been with the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Illinois since 2006, where he now serves as Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs. He holds an affiliate appointment in the Coordinated Science Laboratory, where he leads a research group that works on a diverse set of projects ( Dr. Bretl received the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award in 2010. He has also received numerous awards for undergraduate teaching in the area of dynamics and control, including all three teaching awards given by the College of Engineering at Illinois (the Rose Award for Teaching Excellence, the Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Collins Award for Innovative Teaching).

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Students entering college in an engineering discipline often struggle in their first semesters. While the reasons for their difficulties may vary, it is often the course assessments (quizzes and exams) that serve as the first “wake-up call.” Many under-performing students are suddenly convinced to reassess their approach to college-level studies. In our large (N > 400) first-year engineering course at the University of Illinois, we have decided to leverage this motivation in a timely manner. Each midterm exam assessment is immediately followed by an opportunity for mastery improvement. Successful completion of that exercise allows for a second-chance test to be taken. We have found that our variety of second-chance testing promotes student learning and improved mastery of the course learning objectives.

In our study, we will look at the mode of mastery improvement exercises and methods for attracting students to these activities. We will discuss our methodology in second-chance testing while providing the rationale for our choices. We follow this with a statistical analysis of the assessment scores and demonstrate the desired effects of second-chance testing as witnessed on the final exam.

Schmitz, C. D., & Herman, G. L., & Bretl, T. (2020, June), The Effects of Second-Chance Testing on Learning Outcomes in a First-Year STEM Course in Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35313

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