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Using Self-assessment in an Introductory Structures Course for Construction Managers

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Innovative Course Developments in Construction

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1440.1 - 25.1440.15



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Paper Authors


John Tingerthal P.E. Northern Arizona University

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John Tingerthal joined the construction management faculty at Northern Arizona University in 2007. His engineering career spans a wide variety of design and forensic engineering experiences. He spent the first eight years of his career performing structural consulting engineering in Chicago. This work culminated with design work on the Minneapolis Public Library and the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wis. He was also involved with forensic investigations in Iowa and Wisconsin and participated in structural coordination efforts at Ground Zero in September of 2001. He holds professional engineering licenses in the states of Arizona and Illinois.
He is currently working on a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in higher education. His academic interests lie in the field of student-centered learning and teaching. He has been a primary instructor in a transdisciplinary course that incorporated engineering, construction, cultural anthropology, and emergency medicine in an immersive experiential setting that was aimed to prepare students for international development projects. Tingerthal is a member of Engineers without Borders, ASCE, AISC, and the Building Smart Alliance and advises the construction management student organization (CMO). He coordinates NAU’s teams for the Associated Schools of Construction Regional competition in Reno, Nev., and coaches the BIM team.

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Assessment of student performance is a necessary component of every academic program, but alltoo often this is a one-way street with only the instructor performing the evaluation. Usingassessment of learning by the students themselves is an approach that encourages students toactively engage in their own learning. Studies have shown that self-assessment can have apositive effect on achievement and that such assessments can be a reliable source of data. It isthe formative use of their own assessments by the students that will allow them to focus andclose the gap between current and desired performance.The objective of this paper is to demonstrate an approach to using a self-assessment ofconceptual understanding in an introductory construction management structures course to helpstudents improve learning of concepts that are personally challenging.The sample for this study is students enrolled in a sophomore level introduction to structurescourse within an ACCE accredited Construction Management program at a mid-sizedSouthwestern public institution. Data was collected over the course of three semesters. Duringthe last week of each semester, a three-step process was initiated that included a self-assessmentof confidence with course material, a reflective exercise that probed identified problematictopics, and a follow-up assignment to focus individual study. This follow-up assignment wasunique to each student's initial assessment and was evaluated as a percentage of the finalexamination score. The results of the self-assessment, the follow-up assignment and a separateinstructor created final examination constitute the dataset. Assessment data was analyzed toidentify consistencies and contradictions among the topics. Individual assessment results will becompared to performance on the instructor created final examination to determine if there is adifference in performance between topics identified with high confidence and topics identifiedwith low confidence.Initial analysis of the data indicates that students consistently classify topics in a similar manner.Individual students typically demonstrate some competence with topics on the final exam thatthey themselves originally identified as problematic. Analysis of difference in performancebetween topics identified with high and low confidence is in progress.This assessment process is relevant to engineering education because it provides a way to helpguide students in identifying bottleneck concepts and empowers them to make improvements inproblematic areas. This is particularly important in this domain because students typicallystruggle with structural mechanics concepts. Students are given partial control over the contentthat they will be evaluated on for their final examination which empowers them. Further, theresults provide important feedback to the instructor on which topics are the most problematic,thus informing future curricular improvements.

Tingerthal, J. (2012, June), Using Self-assessment in an Introductory Structures Course for Construction Managers Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22197

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