Elevating Participation and Outcomes with Computer-based Assessment: An Immersive Development Workshop for Engineering Faculty

Ronald DeMara, Baiyun Chen, Richard Hartshorne, Richard Thripp


Using computer-based assessments for engineering and other STEM courses is challenging because it requires authentic assessment items that support partial credit, solution composability/traceability, and creative design aspects. Fortunately, learning management systems (LMSs), such as Canvas or Moodle, can be adapted through creative means to deliver more complex assessment options, including incremental solution, multiple answer, design-by-selection, and dynamic cloning. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of STEM assessments and development interfaces, it can be overwhelming for faculty to digitize assessments without sufficient exemplars, deep coaching, and peer assistance. This paper summarizes an immersive faculty development approach designed to address such concerns. The six-week Assessment Digitization Innovation summer workshop covered techniques and principles of digital assessment and associated pedagogical approaches, and was completed by ten instructors in 2016 and seven in 2017. Combined with a stipend, a course release, and the resources of the university’s Evaluation and Proficiency Center (EPC), a proctored testing environment allowing students to schedule their quizzes and exams during a testing window specified by the instructor, participants and their teaching assistants were set up to succeed. In post-surveys, they were “very satisfied” with the workshop and agreed that assessment digitization would save time, refocus faculty workloads from low-impact grading to high-impact structured tutoring, improve remediation, and enable them to effectively serve increasing enrollments. Whereas student laptops with lockdown browsers, unused hours of existing computing labs, and dedicated testing centers allow delivery of computer-based assessments using the techniques herein, the methods described can further help to promulgate reduced grading workloads via digitized formative and summative assessments.


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