Solutions Lab 20: Converting design & build assessments for distance learning

Many design-based STEM courses incorporate a practical project which requires students to design, build and test a product/artefact for the course assessment. Often, the assessment culminates in a live competition event which brings students together with staff to test and celebrate the learning achievements of everyone involved.

The closure of campus and switch to virtual and ‘at-distance’ learning means that this assessment approach needs to be adapted – students may not now have access to key materials and equipment and they are unable to congregate together in a common physical space. So, how realistic is it to run a virtual ‘design and build’ assessment that is accessible and inclusive, yet fulfils the intended learning outcomes of the course?

In this session, Abdulghani Mohamed (School of Engineering) will describe how he converted his ‘Design, Build, Fly’ project so that students were able to build and test gliders at home, using scrap materials and DIY video equipment. He will show how he had to re-frame the rules and conditions for the assessment and find new ways for his team to measure and assess key assessment criteria (such as acceleration, velocity etc) with free open-source software.

In translating the project to a distance learning version, there have been some compromises – the projects are now individual rather than team-based and the teaching team have found that they have a heavier marking load. But the benefits – which include a stronger assessment strategy, greater staff creativity/collaboration and enhanced student engagement – mean that the team feel equipped and inspired to develop the course in new and exciting ways in the future.

View the recording of the webinar below, technical glitches and question time have been removed.

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