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Use Of Formative Assessment To Probe Student Conceptions Of The Lever Rule

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Materials Science and Engineering of 2020

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1368.1 - 11.1368.15



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Paper Authors


Chrysanthe Demetry Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Chrys Demetry is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Materials Science and Engineering Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her teaching and research interests include use of educational technology, influence of learning styles on teaching and learning, and K-12 engineering outreach. She received the ASM Bradley Stoughton Award for Young Teachers in 2000 and WPI’s Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2002.

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

Use of Formative Assessment to Probe Student Conceptions of the Lever Rule


Scientific studies of learning have revealed that student misconceptions are more likely to be addressed by teaching practices that emphasize formative assessment in addition to summative assessments like graded homework and exams.1,2 In other words, students benefit from frequent assessment for learning instead of exclusive assessment of learning. In this context, the term formative assessment shares much in common with the term classroom assessment used by Angelo and Cross in the 1990s:3 learning activities conducted in the classroom that are designed to probe and advance student understandings.

Integrating formative assessment into a large enrollment course is an overwhelming prospect for many instructors, but educational technologies are making classroom-based assessment activities much more feasible. In the last several years action research on the use of web-based course management systems and electronic response systems, also known as student response systems, classroom communication systems, audience response systems, electronic voting systems, or more colloquially as “clickers,” has been spreading into science and engineering classrooms. In the Physics teaching community, for example, these instructional technologies have facilitated the implementation of Peer Instruction4 and Just-in-Time Teaching,5 pedagogies that focus on interactive engagement and the importance of prior knowledge in the learning process and that have been shown to enhance student learning outcomes.6 Web-deployed assessments and use of clickers in the classroom offer the potential to implement key elements of effective formative assessment:1 gathering information about learners’ current states of understanding and making adjustments in instruction to close the gap between those states of understanding and learning goals.

This paper is part of an ongoing inquiry into use of educational technologies to facilitate formative assessment in large-enrollment offerings of Introduction to Materials Science. Previous work explored students’ reactions to assessment activities and their perceptions of learning gains.7,8 Students reported that use of these technologies promoted learning and recommended their continued use. More recent work has sought to probe beyond student perceptions and explore more directly the extent to which these formative assessment activities, and the feedback and instruction that follows, are associated with learning gains.9 This paper focuses on formative assessment activities related to phase equilibria that were intended to reveal student conceptions of components, phases, amounts and compositions of phases, and their understanding and application of the lever rule. These particular concepts were of interest based on the frequency and persistence of student misunderstandings observed in more than a decade of teaching introductory materials. In addition, concepts of phase equilibria are included in the “Materials Concept Inventory” developed recently by Krause and Griffin.10-12 This paper offers further insight into student conceptions of the lever rule that were revealed by formative

Demetry, C. (2006, June), Use Of Formative Assessment To Probe Student Conceptions Of The Lever Rule Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--965

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