Measuring Student Learning Using Initial and Final Concept Test in a STEM Course

Effective assessment is a cornerstone in measuring student learning in higher education. For a course in Numerical Methods, a concept test was used as an assessment tool to measure student learning and its improvement during the course.

The concept test comprised of 16-multiple-choice questions and was given in the beginning and end of the class for three semesters. Hake’s gain index, a measure of learning gains from pre-test to post-test, of 0.36 to 0.41 were recorded. The validity and reliability of the concept test were checked via standard measures such as Cronbach alpha, content and criterion-related validity, item characteristic curves, and difficulty and discrimination indices. The performance of various subgroups such as pre-requisite grades, transfer students, gender, and age was also studied. Our analysis also shows that certain subgroups’ performance in the pre- and post-concept test is significantly better than others. For example, students with prerequisite GPA≥3.0 perform better than those with prerequisite GPA<3.0, and non-adult students perform better than adult students do.

Table. Student performance in pre- and post-concept test over three semesters

Semester Average Number of Correct Answers in Pre-test(mean/ Average Number of Correct Answers in Post-test (mean/ Hake’s Gain Index
Spring 2008 8.2/2.4 11.0/2.7 0.36
Spring 2009 8.3/3.5 11.6/3.9 0.43
Spring 2010 9.2/2.6 12.0/2.2 0.41

Related Papers
A. Kaw, A. Yalcin, “Measuring Student Learning Using Initial and Final Concept Test in a STEM Course”, International Journals of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology.