Morgantown, West Virginia
March 27, 2020
March 27, 2020
May 20, 2020
A new assessment model has been developed and tested during the past four years at Michigan State University. This new approach has been shown to significantly increase students’ problem solving proficiency while encouraging more effective study habits and a positive learning mindset. We refer to this new approach as SMART Assessment - short for Supported Mastery Assessment using Repeated Testing.
SMART Assessment aims to reduce or eliminate ineffective study strategies that many students are now using to pass STEM courses. These practices include: 1) copying of homework solutions from online resources; and 2) memorization of a small number of problem solutions that can be used to mimic understanding and maximize partial credit on exams. Enabled by technology and social networking, the rapid proliferation of these detrimental strategies is increasing, and their long term impacts are just now being fully realized. Based on our observations, the net effect is that the current level of learning is well below what is needed for an engineering graduate and much lower than most assessment methods would indicate. This is a world-wide trend, and its potential consequences are perilous.
When implemented holistically, the SMART Assessment model has produced consistently positive results, irrespective of instructor or student cohort. Compared to a standard assessment model with graded homework and “correct approach”-based partial credit on exams, students in courses that used SMART Assessment scored between two and three letter grades (20-30 points out of 100) higher on common exams designed to assess mastery. Preliminary results suggest that women and men perform equally well under this model. Implementation has now begun at other universities and in additional courses, where early positive results and feedback indicate that the approach is transferable among universities and department cultures.
There have been a small number of unsuccessful implementations of SMART Assessment, each of them notably omitting important components of the system. In this paper, we discuss the key principles and components of SMART Assessment as well as their interdependencies. We provide a post-mortem assessment of successful and unsuccessful implementations to serve as a guide to instructors and programs who may choose to implement this approach in the future.
Averill, R., & Recktenwald, G., & Roccabianca, S., & Mejia-Alvarez, R. (2020, March), The Need for Holistic Implementation of SMART Assessment Paper presented at 2020 ASEE North Central Section conference, Morgantown, West Virginia. https://strategy.asee.org/35749
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