Assessment of Student Understanding of Program Outcomes in Machine Design Course

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Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research


This paper is concerned with students? assessment of Program Outcomes (PO?s) of an example Machine Design course that the author taught in three different terms in the last three years. In this study, each student taking this class was asked to provide additional information concerning what concept(s) was (were) targeted in each homework problem and in each problem on the midterm examination and to what extent, if any, the PO?s were satisfied. This study suggested that students seem in tune with the targeted concepts via course experiences but rather non-consistent with regards to the interpretation of Program Outcomes. For many students, this was the first time that they were asked to examine the outcomes critically, but they all seemed to understand and realize the merit of the process (particularly due to the quick feedback of the results that they receive). Some students were further challenged to ?redesign? some of the homework problems in such a way that the previously addressed ?weaker? PO?s could be better addressed in those redesigned problems. The result of the ?redesign? exercise was interesting in that students found it both difficult and challenging to create a new set of homework problems. This lead to the need for the instructor to provide effective ways of posing homework problems, which may be different from conventional exercise problems presented in the currently available textbooks. Also, project based teaching seemed to help the students understanding and appreciation of material taught in the classes. In the paper, a course-level formative and summative assessment of students? understanding of the Program Outcomes, including comparison with the instructor?s target expectation for the achievement of such outcomes was presented. The paper concluded with ways to gather better data illustrating students? interpretation of PO?s and perhaps redesign course content and instructional method to better meet desired outcomes.





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