Sigma Xi Statement - James M. Gregory

James M. Gregory, Texas Tech University

Best Practices Using Assessment to Strengthen Student Learning. As one reviews and analyzes the shortage of students pursuing and succeeding in math, science, and engineering careers, it becomes obvious that the US education system has flaws. Analysis of the lives and education of successful and famous scientists and inventors (Pasture, Einstein, Edison, etc.) reveals that the traditional education system did not encourage them either. Pasture did makeup work to get into college and made average grades. Einstein never received a high school diploma because of discipline problems and made a 3.2 GPA in college. Edison never advanced to high school because of problems in grade school. They were not honor students. Einstein and Edison probably had learning disabilities. All had a personally directed education and passion for discovery. All learned how to learn and practiced life-long-learning. The shortage problem is simple: low recruitment to the sciences in high school and low retention in college. Many if not most students in high school learn to memorize to pass tests instead of learning how to learn and learning to seek information for real understanding. At college, they are poorly prepared for real learning. As associate dean in engineering, I often hear struggling students say; "I never had to study in high school." They could have studied but did not make that choice. Why? I think they never had a dream of what they could be! At Texas Tech University in the College of Engineering, we are doing practices and developing tools to help students to discover their career interest, correct major, learning style, risk for learning disabilities, and need for sleep management including understanding the interactions with use of alcohol and caffeine. In addition to the above tools, we use a computer program, GREG, to help students to interactively discover how to learn. It predicts college GPA as a function of various system inputs. All of these tools are a form of assessment that allows students to quickly and efficiently understand themselves, the system they are in, and how to personally direct their education to achieve their education goals. We also have caused a paradigm shift in advising with our web-based QUICK Scheduler that schedules classes, study times, sleep, work, and other activities for an academically smart schedule in a few seconds. The current set of tools is being re-organized under the concept of E-COACH. Access is free. E-COACH has three parts: ED DOCTOR, QUICK Advisor, and QUALITY Assessment. Five software projects are currently in development to expand all three components to provide integrated assessment from high school through college. We are also starting to see a paradigm shift at the high school level as students are learning to use our web-based career-mapping and learning styles assessment tool, http://edtool.coe.ttu.edu/eddoc, to discover their career interest and to select appropriate education to develop their dream. The result is a focused, personalized education and better recruiting of students to our college. I think Pasture, Einstein, and Edison would have liked the process.