Improvement in learning outcomes on a Level 7 Year 1 module in engineering through the repeated use of formative assessments

O'Dwyer, Aidan (2011) Improvement in learning outcomes on a Level 7 Year 1 module in engineering through the repeated use of formative assessments. [Conference Proceedings]


The use of audience response technology ('clickers') is recognized as one the most exciting recent developments in classroom activity, allowing the consolidation of student learning through immediate feedback. Multiple-choice questions are frequently used as part of this activity in formative assessment mode. Unfortunately, significant infrastructure is required to support the use of the technology, which is not available in the classrooms used by the author. The contribution will report on, and assess, the use of the lower technology solution of short, paper-based, multiple-choice quizzes, to improve student learning on a Level 7, Year 1 module in engineering. The quizzes, which have been used over two academic years, are given at the end of each topic explored in the classroom as formative assessments; typically, quizzes have an average of eight multiple choice questions and take place every week in the semester. Students complete the quizzes anonymously, with the author communicating that the purpose of the work is to identify muddy points in student understanding. After the lecture, the author analyses the quiz results, identifying any difficulties experienced; the solutions of the quiz questions that a large number of students found difficult, and the related underlying concepts, are then explored in the next classroom session, before a new topic is started. Student response to the use of the quizzes has been positive. There has been a significant increase in subject classroom attendance in the past two academic years compared to previous academic years, and an improvement in student learning outcomes as measured by the results of summative assessments. The contribution will explore these issues in detail.

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