(107a) The World Is Changing and We Must Change with It - Lessons Learned in Alternative Grading Approaches in Core Chemical Engineering Courses | AIChE

(107a) The World Is Changing and We Must Change with It - Lessons Learned in Alternative Grading Approaches in Core Chemical Engineering Courses


Burkey, D. - Presenter, University of Connecticut
Pascal, J. - Presenter, University of Connecticut
Stuber, M. - Presenter, University of Connecticut
Wagstrom, K. - Presenter, University of Connecticut
The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant disruption to the way that we deliver classes to students. Remote learning, absences from class due to personal or family illness, and other disruptive events have in many cases changed the desirability and practicality of traditional deadlines, assignments, and major assessments. In this presentation, four faculty members teaching core chemical engineering courses in the second, third, and fourth year discuss the design and implementation of alternative evaluation schemes in their classes over the course of the past two years, including challenges, lessons learned, and student response to these alternative schemes.

In the second year, we describe a specifications grading approach in a material and energy balances course built around individual projects in lieu of exams, opportunities for growth through resubmission, and use of reflections to develop better work habits. This shifted the goal to providing students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of core concepts rather than high-stress testing that evaluates their ability to demonstrate these concepts under the pressure of time.

In the third year, we discuss two courses, a Chemical Engineering Mathematical Analysis Course, where we utilize an augmented specifications grading approach whereby conventional assessments: homework problem sets, daily quizzes, and exams are offered to students in the standard way, but credit is earned based on a method that is less punitive and extremely forgiving of simple mistakes. Summarily, students are provided a "choose your own adventure" approach to achieving a desired grade, with the lowest passing grade corresponding to the minimum acceptable achievement of the student outcomes. This approach was designed to be adapted to any existing class with standard assessment and grading formats with little redesign required. In Fluid Mechanics, an approach based on “Ungrading” was used, decentering grades while emphasizing feedback with a semester-long project designed to give students voice and choice in how they demonstrated their learning.

In the fourth year, we also applied an “Ungrading” approach to the Capstone Design course, which included the elimination of all intermediate deadlines, a “no-grades, feedback-only” approach to assignments, flexibility and choice in assignment completion, and a comprehensive portfolio with one-on-one student meetings to demonstrate and discuss learning outcomes.