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Whose Grade is it Anyway?: Transitioning Engineering Courses to an Evidence-based Specifications Grading System

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Alternatives to Traditional Assessment

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

34

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35512

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35512

Download Count

152

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Paper Authors

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Todd M. Fernandez Georgia Institute of Technology

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Todd is a lecturer in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interests are about engineering students beliefs about knowledge and their formation through the engineering education experience.

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Kaela M. Martin Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Kaela Martin is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus. She graduated from Purdue University with a PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and is interested in increasing classroom engagement and student learning.

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Richard T. Mangum Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Richard T. Mangum is an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus. He is a PhD candidate in Texas Tech University's Technical Communication and Rhetoric program. He is interested in helping engineering students discover the relevancy of technical communication in their academic pursuits and future career paths.

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Cristi L. Bell-Huff Georgia Institute of Technology

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Cristi L. Bell-Huff, PhD is a Lecturer in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University where she is involved in teaching and engineering education innovation and research. In addition to her PhD in Chemical Engineering, she also has an MA in Educational Studies. She has industrial experience in pharmaceutical product and process development as well as teaching experience at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

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Abstract

This evidence-based practice paper documents the faculty experience of implementing specifications grading in different types of engineering courses. Rather than evolving from learning theory or research, current grading practices have primarily arisen from canonical practices created three centuries ago, originally created to rank students against each other. Such ranking or competition derived practices are out of alignment with modern outcomes-based engineering assessment practices. Specifications grading, an alternative, is a framework for assessment grounded in learning theory as well as student agency. The cornerstone of specifications grading is treating each assignment as a pass/fail marker of mastery using clearly defined and transparent criteria. With limited examples in engineering, this paper provides a clear introduction to specifications grading for the engineering education community and presents case studies of the use of specifications grading in engineering classrooms. Our three case studies include insights into transitioning a senior design course co-taught by technical communication faculty from rubric-based grading, transitioning a lower-level statistics class from bell-curve grading, and developing a new first-year engineering course. With these cases, we aspire to create a diverse set of advice and templates for other faculty to adopt in their classes to implement specification grading as well as common pitfalls to avoid when first adopting it.

Fernandez, T. M., & Martin, K. M., & Mangum, R. T., & Bell-Huff, C. L. (2020, June), Whose Grade is it Anyway?: Transitioning Engineering Courses to an Evidence-based Specifications Grading System Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35512

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