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Using Standards-based Grading to Effectively Assess Project-based Design Courses

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

DEED Melange

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

24.1345.1 - 24.1345.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23278

Download Count

72

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Paper Authors

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Sara A. Atwood Elizabethtown College

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Dr. Sara Atwood is an Assistant Professor of Engineering and Physics at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, where she teaches mechanical engineering and design courses. Her research interests include recruitment and retention of women in engineering, K12 outreach, and creativity as a factor in the success of engineering students. She received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and her BA in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College.

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Matthew T. Siniawski Loyola Marymount University

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Dr. Matthew T. Siniawski is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. He teaches the senior capstone design project courses and has recently begun mentoring students on the design of assistive devices for children with disabilities. One of his research interests lies in understanding how these Learning Through Service projects impact participating engineering students and community partners. He is also interested in researching classroom-based pedagogies of engagement and developing a standards-based grading system for engineering project courses.

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Adam R. Carberry Arizona State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0041-7060

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Adam R. Carberry, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University in the Fulton Schools of Engineering. He earned a B.S. in Materials Science Engineering from Alfred University, and received his M.S. and Ph.D., both from Tufts University, in Chemistry and Engineering Education respectively. Dr. Carberry was previously an employee of the Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education & Outreach and manager of the Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program (STOMP).

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Abstract

Using Standards-based Grading to Effectively Assess Project-based Design CoursesStandards-based grading (SBG) is an alternative to traditional score-based gradingsystems that allows an instructor to provide assessment linked to course objectives.Course syllabi typically list course objectives that are rarely discussed again beyond thefirst day of class. SBG ties assessment throughout a course with these objectives, whilealso providing clear, meaningful feedback, fairness and transparency in the gradingprocess, and useful program assessment. Objectives are skills-based and specific, whilefeedback is directed at exactly which skills the students need to improve.Previous use of SBG in engineering courses has proven to be taxing on the instructoraccept for instances when students practice what they learn. Project-based design coursesalign well with SBG because their nature demands repeat assessment of fundamentallearning objectives. The following study investigates the use of SBG in two cornerstonedesign courses with similar learning objectives at different ABET accredited engineeringprograms. The first course was a 4-credit, 2-semester introduction to engineering for first-year students at a small, private liberal arts college (N = 45). The second was a 1semester, engineering project-based design course for second-year students at a large,public university (N = 60). This course offering is one course in a string of projectcourses required by students in this program each semester.Students at both institutions were asked to complete a survey investigating perceivedvalue toward SBG. The survey is designed to report scores relating to intrinsic (interest,enjoyment), attainment (contribution to self), utility (advantages toward personal goals),and cost (sacrifices required). Overall, students reported that the standards based gradingsystem has higher value (2.87) than cost (2.30) on a 4-point scale (p <0.001). At the smallliberal arts institution, students were more focused on attainment value, while students atthe large research university were more focused on utility value. Students at the smallliberal arts college also gave generally higher ratings to both value and cost, with asmaller (but still statistically significant) average difference between the two (0.34 and0.81, respectively).Students at both institutions were additionally queried to assess impact of the course onengineering design self-efficacy. Students reported higher self-efficacy in design-basedobjectives after the course, with an average self-efficacy increase of 15-20 points on a100-point scale.These results suggest that standards based grading is a valuable approach to assessmentof engineering students in early cornerstone project-based design courses at a range ofinstitution types. Differences expressed by the student populations, especially regardingperceived cost, may be due to the instructor’s lack of familiarity with the grading system.This limitation is hypothesized to decrease over time with practice.

Atwood, S. A., & Siniawski, M. T., & Carberry, A. R. (2014, June), Using Standards-based Grading to Effectively Assess Project-based Design Courses Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/23278

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