Identification of generic errors for effective formative feedback in energy studies thematic area of mechanical engineering

Reaz Hasan

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The paper describes the findings from a CETL funded project for the identification of generic errors made by undergraduate students within the thematic area of energy studies in an accredited Mechanical Engineering programme. The idea came from the author’s own experience of teaching in the above thematic area when he observed that the mistakes and errors that the students usually make have some recurrence. Also, the mistakes committed within this subject area are very much theme focused. A systematic qualitative investigation was carried out on the student works available within module boxes. Usually the number of student works kept in a module box is square root of n, where n represents the total number of scripts in a cohort. Four different modules spread over three academic levels (Levels 3,4,5) and for three academic years were available and considered for data collection. Altogether the number of student works that were available was 185. The methodology involved the standard qualitative categorisation approach where the scripts were scrutinised and re-scrutinised in an attempt to identify the commonality of mistakes. After several trials along with critical analysis of the tutor feedback on each individual script, it was possible to identify nine generic errors and mistakes. The frequencies were then counted and data presented in percentages. Interestingly, the findings from this study have later been compared with errors found in examination scripts (of one energy study module) in later years and a broad similarity has been found. Based on such observation, the author regularly uses the findings to remind students of the generic errors and mistakes and highlights the various ways in which they can be minimsed. The feedback from students has been found to be very positive. The results also highlight that similar templates can be produced for other thematic areas of learning such as ‘design’ or ‘mechanics’ within engineering disciplines. Students will greatly benefit from such an in-house list which may serve as a feed-forward template in their future years in the university and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
EventInnovation, Practice and Research in Engineering Education (EE2012) - Coventry University
Duration: 1 Sept 2012 → …


ConferenceInnovation, Practice and Research in Engineering Education (EE2012)
Period1/09/12 → …


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