FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT AND MOTIVATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION: A SUCCESSFUL APPROACH IN MECHANICAL ENGINEER THERMODYNAMICS
Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Between 2000/01 and 2006/07, the approval rate of a Thermodynamics course in a Mechanical Engineer graduation was 25%. However, a careful analysis of the results showed that 41% of the students chosen not to attend or dropped out, missing the final examination.
Thus, a continuous assessment methodology was developed, whose purpose was to reduce drop out, motivating students to attend this course, believing that what was observed was due, not to the incapacity to pass, but to the anticipation of the inevitability of failure by the students.
If, on one hand, motivation is defined as a broad construct pertaining to the conditions and processes that account for the arousal, direction, magnitude, and maintenance of effort, on the other hand, assessment is one of the most powerful tools to change the will that students have to learn, motivating them to learn in a quicker and permanent way.
Some of the practices that were implemented, included: promoting learning goal orientation rather than performance goal orientation; cultivating intrinsic interest in the subject and put less emphasis on grades but make grading criteria explicit; emphasizing teaching approaches that encourage collaboration among students and cater for a range of teaching styles; explaining the reasons for, and the implications of, tests; providing feedback to students about their performance in a form that is non-egoinvolving and non-judgemental and helping students to interpret it; broadening the range of information used in assessing the attainment of individual students.
The continuous assessment methodology developed was applied in 2007/08 and 2008/09, having found an increase in the approval from 25% to 55% (30%), accompanied by a decrease of the drop out from 41% to 23,5% (17,5%). Flunking with a numerical grade lowered from 34,4% to 22,0% (12,4%).
The perception by the students of the continuous assessment relevance was evaluated with a questionnaire. 70% of the students that failed the course respond that, nevertheless, didn’t repent having done the continuous assessment.
Keywords: Motivation, formative assessment, higher education.