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Implementation of an integrated, technology-based, discovery mode assessment item involving an incubation period to enhance learning outcomes for engineering maths students

Kelson, Neil A. & Tularam, Gurudeo A. (1998) Implementation of an integrated, technology-based, discovery mode assessment item involving an incubation period to enhance learning outcomes for engineering maths students. In Effective Assessment at University, UQ Teaching and Educational Development Institute (TEDI), The University of Queensland.

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In this paper we discuss our current efforts to develop and implement an exploratory, discovery mode assessment item into the total learning and assessment profile for a target group of about 100 second level engineering mathematics students. The assessment item under development is composed of 2 parts, namely, a set of "pre-lab" homework problems (which focus on relevant prior mathematical knowledge, concepts and skills), and complementary computing laboratory exercises which are undertaken within a fixed (1 hour) time frame. In particular, the computing exercises exploit the algebraic manipulation and visualisation capabilities of the symbolic algebra package MAPLE, with the aim of promoting understanding of certain mathematical concepts and skills via visual and intuitive reasoning, rather than a formal or rigorous approach.

The assessment task we are developing is aimed at providing students with a significant learning experience, in addition to providing feedback on their individual knowledge and skills. To this end, a noteworthy feature of the scheme is that marks awarded for the laboratory work are primarily based on the extent to which reflective, critical thinking is demonstrated, rather than the amount of CBE-style tasks completed by the student within the allowed time.

With regard to student learning outcomes, a novel and potentially critical feature of our scheme is that the assessment task is designed to be intimately linked to the overall course content, in that it aims to introduce important concepts and skills (via individual student exploration) which will be revisited somewhat later in the pedagogically more restrictive formal lecture component of the course (typically a large group plenary format). Furthermore, the time delay involved, or "incubation period", is also a deliberate design feature: it is intended to allow students the opportunity to undergo potentially important internal re-adjustments in their understanding, before being exposed to lectures on related course content which are invariably delivered in a more condensed, formal and mathematically rigorous manner.

In our presentation, we will discuss in more detail our motivation and rationale for trailing such a scheme for the targeted student group. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of our approach (as we perceived them at the initial stages) will also be enumerated.

In a companion paper, the theoretical framework for our approach will be more fully elaborated, and measures of student learning outcomes (as obtained from eg. student provided feedback) will be discussed.

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ID Code: 28089
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Keywords: mathematics, education, incubation
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Technology, Information and Learning Support
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1998 the authors.
Deposited On: 21 Oct 2009 13:25
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2010 00:05

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