González de Sande, Juan Carlos and Arriero Encinas, Luis and Benavente Peces, César and Fraile Muñoz, Rubén and Godino Llorente, Juan Ignacio and Gutierrez, J. and Osés del Campo, David and Osma Ruiz, Víctor
A case study: Final exam versus continuous assessment marks for electrical and electronic engineering students.
In: "International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation, ICERI 2008", 17/11/2008-19/11/2008, Madrid, España. ISBN 978-84-612-5367-8.
In this work we analyze the final marks obtained by the students of the course “Signals and Systems” of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree at the E.U.I.T. de Telecomunicación in the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Students within this course are assessed by two different methods: the first one consists of only a final exam while the second one implies students following a continuous and formative assessment method in which they are required to solve some open exercises almost every week and to fulfil a self-evaluation test every two weeks all along the whole semester. During the academic year 07/08, all the students of the course were assessed by both methods. Herein, we analyze the final marks (in a 0-10 scale) obtained by the students and compare the pass and fail rates obtained with both assessment methods when the minimum mark for passing is set to 5. This work was done with a sample of 210 students that were divided in 7 different groups with different lecturers. We have found that more than 70 % of the students where classified in the same group, either pass or fail, with both assessment methods. As for the rest, 15 % of the students failed with the continuous assessment method but succeeded in the final exam and the remaining 15% passed in the continuous assessment and failed in the finals. For these two groups, observations indicate that the first one corresponds to students that either deliberately chose to be evaluated only with a final exam, thus not presenting the required coursework, or presented medium quality works (marks around 4) and did a greater effort for preparing the exam. As for the last group, it should be highlighted that their effort during the course allowed the majority of them to obtain marks above 3.5 points in the final exam. Based on these results, we made simulations so as to have an insight in what would be the student’s final marks when both assessment methods were combined with different weightings. Nowadays, this kind of combination is a common practice in many Universities, but usually the final exam has a higher weight (60 to 80 %) in the final student’s marks. We found that even if the final exam’s weight was only 25% and the continuous assessment’s weight was 75%, only 3% of the students that had final exam marks lower than 3.5 would obtain a weighted mark over 5.0. Consequently, we conclude that continuous assessment gives practically the same pass/fail rates as the final exam.