Formative assessment in engineering using "TRIADS" software
conference contributionposted on 24.05.2006, 15:33 by Joseph Wood, Michael Burrows
If assessment is influential in driving student learning, then interesting and challenging assessments should enhance the learning process. This paper describes how we have tried to implement this philosophy in our introduction of computer-based assessment (CBA) using TRIADS (Tripartite Interactive Assessment Delivery System) in Chemical and Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham. Our aims in using CBA in Engineering are to encourage students to be independent learners, to foster a deep approach to learning, whilst maintaining high quality teaching with reducing staff-student ratios. To achieve these aims it was decided that we needed software that met two main needs: first, to contain a wide range of question styles that could support higher learning outcomes consistent with Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives and secondly could be used for formative assessment in which the feedback could be configured to direct student learning. TRIADS was selected as it meets these criteria and allows the tutor a high degree of flexibility in configuring the questions. To demonstrate the ability of TRIADS to meet these criteria this paper describes our development and implementation of formative assessments in Chemical and Civil Engineering. In Chemical Engineering a tutorial based on CBA was held with a first-year class of 38 students. The results of the assessment were recorded in order to evaluate question design; initial results and feedback from the students implied that a high level of independent learning took place. In Civil Engineering the CBA was for taught MSc students. The focus was on designing varied and challenging questions to test higher level learning outcomes and to give answer-specific feedback to direct further student learning.
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