This paper examines the impact of delivery and assessment changes in a module provided in the third year of a four-year undergraduate honours degree in computer science. It begins by outlining the initial structure of the module, and then discusses the rationale for alterations made to the hourly allocation of lectures versus hands-on laboratory classes, along with changes to the weightings of marks for written examination versus continuous assessment (CA). The paper next analyses the impact on student performance pre- and post-intervention and across the different assessment types, both written examination and CA project. Substantial effort was taken to ensure that the environment and circumstances were equivalent each year (pre- and post-intervention). The assessments took the form of an end-of-semester written examination worth 60% of the final marks, and a semester-long CA project worth 40%. The analysis shows a statistically significant (p=0.002) improvement in the grades obtained by students in their CA project. Further, although not statistically significant but of note, there was also a dis-improvement in their examination results (p=0.058) which resulted in no significant difference between the overall combined marks from one year to the next. A comparison of the exam grades versus the CA grades for the post-intervention group shows that almost a third of the students had a difference of 30% or more between their written examination and CA result, the CA mark being the higher of the two. Furthermore, these students scored a first-class grade in their CA project, suggesting that a good performance in their CA may have impacted their performance in the written examination, which arguably demonstrates that having some of the students’ penultimate year's marks contribute to their final degree could improve their third-year grades and overall learning.
"The Impact on Assessment Results of Changing to an Active Learning Approach: A Case Study from an Undergraduate Computer Science Degree Programme,"
Irish Journal of Academic Practice:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://arrow.dit.ie/ijap/vol6/iss1/9