Building student agency through online formative quizzes

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The authors are responsible for a core, first-year module on fluids and thermodynamics for a large class (160 students) of aerospace, mechanical and product design engineering students. The introduction across the university last year of a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Canvas, has expanded the potential for active learning and student agency. This paper reports how the curriculum was designed to make use of Canvas features and demonstrates how student engagement was promoted.

A key feature of the new curriculum design was a set of seven Canvas quizzes spread across the year, each available for a two-week window and with a relatively high pass mark but multiple attempts permitted. No marks were given for the quizzes but it was necessary to pass them all to be eligible to pass the module. Formative assessments can be an effective strategy to motivate students to build agency.

Quiz 3 was the earliest when not all students passed and two of the three students in question subsequently failed the first class test; this suggests that not only do the quizzes encourage early and consistent engagement with the module, they offer the possibility of early identification of students at risk. Evidence of repeated attempts even after a pass mark was achieved suggested a high level of motivation in some students to do well in the quizzes. Student surveys indicated their belief that the quizzes were very helpful: “Regular, non-graded quizzes…help to identify an understanding/lack of understanding of the content being covered.”

Results from all the summative assessments in the module were significantly improved compared to the previous year, and student satisfaction levels as measured by end of module evaluations were excellent. The outcomes from the redesign have been very valuable in informing strategies for the move to effective and engaging online delivery due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th International CDIO Conference
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2021
Event17th International CDIO Conference 2021 - Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Duration: 21 Jun 202123 Jun 2021 (Conference proceedings)

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International CDIO Conference
ISSN (Electronic)2002-1593


Conference17th International CDIO Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleCDIO 2021
Internet address


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