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Consistency In Instruction and Assessment of Undergraduate Engineering Laboratories
Consistency in instruction and grade assessment is an important area of focus in higher education due to the high volume of students that take the same course with varying instructors. Eliminating the discrepancies between grades and course objectives is crucial to a healthy learning environment and improving student satisfaction with the university’s curriculum. Mississippi State’s Mechanical Engineering department requires undergraduate students to take a junior level laboratory/lecture course, Experimental Measurement and Techniques. The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with uncertainty, sensors, and hands on use of various types of lab equipment. The lab portion of the class contains a six-week rotation where students participate in experiments that utilize thermal, pressure, electrical, and light sensors to gather data and perform post-lab analysis. To standardize the instruction of the lab attendant, standard operating procedures (SOP’s) were created to ensure that the methodology and results were consistent between semesters and instructors. The SOP’s contain instructional notes and results to better familiarize new instructors with the labs and procedures so that students are getting the most consistent lab instruction possible compared to their previous peers. To see how the assessments varied, data was taken from two different instructors over four semesters that utilized the same six-week rotation. The first instructor did not have the SOP’s developed while the second instructor performed the rotation with and without the SOP’s.