8.1 Assessing the Effects of More-Frequent, Low-Stakes Quizzing versus High-Stakes, Less-Frequent Exams on Student Science Literacy within Earth and Atmospheric Science Courses

Wednesday, 9 January 2019: 1:30 PM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Zachary Handlos, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

The goal of this research is to investigate the effects of more-frequent, “low-stakes” quizzes versus less-frequent, “high-stakes” mid-term exams within Earth and atmospheric science undergraduate courses. Specifically, the following will be addressed: 1) Student understanding of course material and 2) Student self-confidence in understanding course material. This research is motivated by past research suggesting that it is not clear which of the two assessment methods is best to implement within STEM undergraduate courses along with interest in utilizing assessment that best demonstrates student understanding while minimizing student stress.

Preliminary results related to these topics in the context of the Summer 2018 course “Introduction to Environmental Science” at the Georgia Institute of Technology are considered. During the first week of class, students were asked to choose one of two assessment routes to participate in: 1) complete 9 quizzes (i.e., 1 quiz every 1-2 weeks) or 2) complete 3 “mid-term” exams (i.e., one exam every 3-4 weeks). All students, regardless of assessment choice, completed the same cumulative final exam during the course final exam period. On each final exam question, students were asked to rate their confidence in answering each question on a scale of 1-5 (i.e., 1 = not confident, …, 5 = extremely confident). Student understanding and self-confidence in course material is investigated by comparing/contrasting student course and assessment grades between the “quiz” and “exam” groups using the two-tailed student t-test statistical method. Given the preliminary nature of this study, the author hopes to motivate discussion about the use of more-frequent, “low-stakes” quizzing vs. less-frequent, “high-stakes” mid-term exams within Earth and atmospheric science courses.

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