June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Educational Research and Methods
14.1260.1 - 14.1260.16
The Development and Use of Evidence-Based Systems for Improving Learning in Engineering Classes
We are interested in using student learning measured via direct assessment as a means of providing evidence for improving learning. This includes enhancing learning both through improvements in instruction and through increased and directed student participation in the learning process.
We are part of the group of developers of concept inventories, in our case, in the thermal sciences. In past work, we have used the results of concept inventory assessment in a variety of ways 1-4. There were several key findings from our initial studies using the concept inventories: First, there appears to be enormous potential using inventory-type questions to provide measures of student learning. Second, because the results provide a direct measure of student learning, it is a logical progression to next ask how student learning might be improved. Third, the results on the inventory as a whole and on specific topics are a natural means to inform both the instructor and student about where learning is satisfactory, and where additional focus is needed. Finally, we also found that there are many challenges to using a single concept inventory to assess student understanding in a given class or course. The most important challenge arises because of the practical limit on the number of questions in a given inventory. This limits the number of questions for any specific topic, which means that it may be impossible to accurately assess student understanding for all topics in a typical engineering course using a single inventory assessment.
As a result of this past work, we have been engaged in the development of a more comprehensive system for assessment of student learning. Similar to the concept inventories, individual multiple-choice items are the basic components of an on- line assessment system. In contrast to the concept inventories, the system we are developing involves a large number of questions or items (minimum 500 questions per course). Because of the large number of items or questions that have been developed, we can assess student learning at the topic level. The large number of items limits the incentive for students to attempt to memorize specific questions, and in addition, minimizes the possibility that the instructor would “teach to the test.” Finally, because of the number of questions, there is a great deal of flexibility in how the assessment is used. For example, it is possible to provide students with the opportunity to assess their own learning, independent of the instructor.
In the following, we preface discussion of the system with particulars of how we have used concept inventories and what we have learned about assessment from these experiences. Next we will provide details on this system. Finally, we will
Martin, J., & Mitchell, J., & Welter, J., & Courter, S. (2009, June), The Use And Development Of Evidence Based Systems For Improving Learning In Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5523
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