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This Work-in-Progress paper studies the mental models of engineering faculty regarding assessment, focusing on their use of metaphors. Assessments are crucial components in courses as they serve various purposes in the learning and teaching process, such as gauging student learning, evaluating instructors and course design, and documenting learning for accountability. Thus, when it comes to faculty development on teaching, assessments should consistently be considered while discussing pedagogical improvements. To contribute to faculty development research, our study illuminates several metaphors engineering faculty use to discuss assessment concepts and knowledge. This paper helps to answer the research question: which metaphors do faculty use when talking about assessment in their classrooms? Through interviews grounded in mental model theory, six metaphors emerged: (1) cooking, (2) playing golf, (3) driving a car, (4) coaching football, (5) blood tests, (6) and generically playing a sport or an instrument. Two important takeaways stemmed from the analysis. First, these metaphors were experiences commonly portrayed in the culture in which the study took place. This is important to note for someone working in faculty development as these metaphors may create communication challenges. Second, the mental model approach showed potential in eliciting ways engineering faculty describe and discuss assessments, offering opportunities for future research and practice in faculty development. The lightning talk will present further details on the findings.more » « lessFree, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
This full research paper documents assessment definitions from engineering faculty members, mainly from Research 1 universities. Assessments are essential components of the engineering learning environment, and how engineering faculty make decisions about assessments in their classroom is a relatively understudied topic in engineering education research. Exploring how engineering faculty think and implement assessments through the mental model framework can help address this research gap. The research documented in this paper focuses on analyzing data from an informational questionnaire that is part of a larger study to understand how the participants define assessments through methods inspired by mixed method strategies. These strategies include descriptive statistics on demographic findings and Natural Language Processing (NLP) and coding on the open-ended response question asking the participants to define assessments, which yielded cluster themes that characterize the definitions. Findings show that while many participants defined assessments in relation to measuring student learning, other substantial aspects include benchmarking, assessing student ability and competence, and formal evaluation for quality. These findings serve as foundational knowledge toward deeper exploration and understanding of assessment mental models of engineering faculty that can begin to address the aforementioned research gap on faculty assessment decisions in classrooms.more » « less