We report on a study designed to identify students at risk by monitoring certain academic behaviors. Two different approaches were implemented. The first one involves monitoring student access of optional homework problems. While this approach was successful in the early identification of students at-risk, optional homework (as opposed to mandatory one) degrades attainment of learning objectives. The second approach relies upon “counting” of uncollected work. Since no grades were posted, the only way for the students to keep track of their performance was to collect their work. Failure to collect graded work, we argue, is indicative of weak motivation, poor class attendance and poor attendance of office hours. In a class of 114 students, 29 students failed to collect at least one major graded work. Twenty-one of them had below-average class ranking and all students with final grades of F and D+ were part of the underperforming group of 21 students. We also studied the motivating impact of rank-performance plots. The impact of these plots was assessed using an anonymous survey. Total of 89 students participated and 78 of them state they have used the plots to determine their ranking. Total of 36 students (47% of 78) report increased efforts; for students ranking in the bottom 1/3 of the class this percentage was close to 60%. The disadvantage of using rank-performance plots as a motivation tool is an increased anxiety.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

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URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/eeng_fac/333