M. Reumann, M. Mohr, A. Dietz, and O. Dössel. Assessing learning progress and teaching quality in large groups of students. In Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2008. EMBS 2008. 30th Annual International Conference of the IEEE, pp. 2877-2880, 2008
The classic tool of assessing learning progress are written tests and assignments. In large groups of students the workload often does not allow in depth evaluation during the course. Thus our aim was to modify the course to include active learning methods and student centered teaching. We changed the course structure only slightly and established new assessment methods like minute papers, short tests, mini-projects and a group project at the end of the semester. The focus was to monitor the learning progress during the course so that problematic issues could be addressed immediately. The year before the changes 26.76 % of the class failed the course with a grade average of 3.66 (Pass grade is 4.0/30 % of achievable marks). After introducing student centered teaching, only 14 % of students failed the course and the average grade was 3.01. Grades were also distributed more evenly with more students achieving better results. We have shown that even in large groups of students with > 100 participants student centered and active learning is possible. Although it requires a great work overhead on the behalf of the teaching staff, the quality of teaching and the motivation of the students is increased leading to a better learning environment.