Collaborative 皇冠体育app: Supported Mastery Assessment using Repeated Testing to Improve Problem Solving Skills and Conceptual Fluency in Engineering Education

 

The environment in which students learn has changed dramatically during the past decade, and educators must either adapt to that change quickly or risk producing a generation of engineers who do not have the fundamental skills required to contribute to a rapidly changing world. Hoping that students will realign their attitudes and study habits with our traditional educational models is a non-starter. New technologies mean that today’s students live in a different world than their predecessors, for whom our current educational models were developed. This paradigm shift is not temporary. It is transformational, and its effects are compounding rapidly. Within engineering, student learning has been noted to be negatively affected by common student coping and grade maximization strategies.  These include copying homework solutions from online resources and memorization of a small number of problem solutions that can be used to mimic problem solving with the goal of receiving partial credit.   The net effect of these student strategies has been that many engineering graduates are not meeting expected levels of mastery and learning.  However, these gaps are often hidden by current assessment techniques.  In response to this observation, the SMART (Supported Mastery Assessment using Repeated Testing) Assessment method was developed at Michigan State University.  This method has been shown, in a limited number of courses, to improve students’ demonstrated problem-solving ability while encouraging more effective study habits.  This project expands the deployment and the assessment of the SMART Assessment methodology to two additional universities and several additional engineering courses.  The overall goal of the project is to fully explore the effect of the SMART Assessment framework on students’ learning -- taking into account different engineering topics, different learning environments, and student membership in one or more underrepresented or at-risk groups.  In addition, the effect of structural supports that are designed to reduce the barriers to adopting the SMART Assessment framework will be evaluated.  Improved teaching strategies within STEM courses will improve the learning of students in these fields - who then go on to be the next generation of engineers, scientists, and problem solvers.  Sharing of the teaching framework with engineering faculty will be initiated through national and international conferences.

This project will implement the SMART Assessment framework within multiple foundational engineering courses (statics, strength of materials, dynamics, and thermodynamics) at three universities: Michigan State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Maryland.  Student learning will be assessed in comparison to traditional format courses and in terms of performance in subsequent classes.  The impact of the SMART framework on student learning will also be evaluated for underrepresented and at-risk students to determine if there are any disparities that are evident.   In order to support broader implementation of this technique, which requires the administration of additional examinations, a computer-based testing facility strategy will be deployed using large question banks.  The impact of such a support on faculty workload and the perception of the SMART framework will be investigated.  Finally, student perceptions of the SMART Assessment framework will be investigated.  All objectives will be supported through quantitative and qualitative statistical analysis.  This project will support the refinement of the developed pedagogy and expand the characterization of its efficacy.  These efforts will support more widespread dissemination in the future.