For the past six years, I have been developing a computer program to analyze summative exam results in my microbiology courses. I wrote this program for several reasons. First, I wanted an easy way to keep a detailed and useful record of the class performance for my courses. I also wanted a way to analyze the function of each exam item in order to improve my assessments over time. Finally, I wanted to be able to provide rapid, specific, and useful feedback to my students concerning their exam performances.
The current instructor report provides a wealth of information. Summary statistics are produced for the overall class performance and the reliability of the instrument. The class' performance is also broken down by learning outcome, lecture topic, and Bloom's taxonomy. Finally, a thorough item analysis is performed using a scoring strategy of my own design.
Each student receives an individualized report via email. This document summarizes their overall performance and also breaks their score down by learning outcome, lecture topic, and Bloom's taxonomy. The report concludes with a reflective piece to promote further learning and improvement on future exams.
I have been using Softchalk to produce a series of online microbiology lab modules. My first attempt won an award from the company! These modules are machine gradable and will replace the print-based lab manuals in my labs. This will save my students money and should improve their preparation for class and enhance their learning.
In an effort to support more critical reasoning by my students, I am also experimenting with a new type of online quiz format. Assertion/reason questions are a type of multiple true/false item. I plan to create a program to analyze the student responses and categorize the types of errors that are commonly made.
One of my New Year's resolutions for 2014 is to regularly post on my assessment blog. This site is meant to be a forum for discussing current developments in the measurement of student learning - both nationally or globally and locally (within our own class rooms). The three most recent posts on this blog are embedded below.