Author: Edward J Berger

Scalable assessment

Ever wonder how a teaching team grades hundreds of exams in a fair, efficient way?

We face a bunch of challenges in assessing student work and providing feedback.

  1. volume: there can be upwards of 700 students in enrolled in certain courses in a semester; now imagine an exam with 4 or 5 questions on it.
  2. fairness: when grading is distributed across multiple people, it is crucial that they all have the same: (i) interpretation of the grading rubric, and (ii) attention to detail in reviewing student work, so that they can apply the rubric.
  3. efficiency: grading often takes place at odd hours, squeezed in when we have a few minutes, rather than in large blocks of time
  4. data entry: with 700 students and 4 problems to grade, that 2800 pieces of information that compose student grades. A data entry error rate of 0.5%, which is extraordinarily low, means we still make more than 10 errors in recording grades.

This team is attempting to address many of these challenges with Gradescope, an online grading tool that optimizing grading speed, amplifies fairness, and uses digital data entry. By grading scanned versions of student work, and specifying detailed rubrics inside Gradescope, grading becomes more convenient and efficient, fairness increases, and data entry is actually eliminated. We cannot solve the volume problem, but this tool addresses the other three challenges in a seamless and convenient way.

An evidence basis for teaching

We’re excited to unveil the ME 200 re|course team.


Learning thermodynamics is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes modern tools and software can make this easier, but there are many cases for which multiple representations of material can make an important difference in learning. The ME 200 re|course team is re-imagining how students learn core thermodynamics principles about temperature, pressure, and properties. They are developing a pilot study to explore the combined use of charts and tables, along with specific pedagogies for each, that will allow students to learn the material at more depth and greater insight. The pilot will be executed in Spring 2016.

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