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Case Study   ·  

How San Diego State University Scaled Assessment for Large Courses with Gradescope

Engaging faculty early in a bottom-up approach helped achieve broader implementation and optimized instructor capacity and student learning.

Engaging faculty early in a bottom-up approach helped achieve broader implementation and optimized instructor capacity and student learning.
Challenge

“In March 2020, SDSU’s Chief Information Officer recognized the need to quickly scale up online and remote capabilities in all areas of instruction, including assessment,” stated Sean Hauze. SDSU was in the middle of a pilot trial of Gradescope when this urgent need surfaced. From there, IT division leadership sought to provide additional support for online and remote capabilities in all areas of instruction, including assessment with a specific focus on STEM disciplines where students previously made hand-written submissions. Hauze applied a bottom up approach, empowering faculty involved in the pilot to identify the specifics of those needs.

Results

Professor Blomgren had already been familiar with Gradescope during a pilot trial to test the tool to improve assessment quality and efficiency before 2020’s urgent needs arose. During that time, he became a champion of the tool and created a library of resource videos on Gradescope best practices to support broader faculty adoption. Noticing the body of work, Hauze approached him to help quickly scale the accessibility of Gradescope across the institution to support SDSU’s initiative for wider remote assessment needs.

Strategically, they found it to be more effective to engage faculty early on to determine best uses for tools rather than the top-down approach of prescribing a tool without their input. As such, SDSU leveraged Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to expand to an enterprise license and provide rapid training for faculty members through a shared governance model with Professor Blomgren at the helm. Together, Professor Blomgren worked with instructors to surface their challenges and determine best practices within Gradescope to address their needs.

Through SDSU’s Flexible Course Design Institute, Professor Blomgren led the design and implementation of two training modules for his peers: Lessons Learned from Pandemic Teaching, and Scaling Up Online. These modules focused on management and engagement strategies for teachers of large lecture courses of 120+ students, and highlighted Gradescope as an effective tool to help scale online teaching and learning.

Among the benefits highlighted in the modules, Professor Blomgren shared that what used to take him two weeks—collecting, collating, grading, and returning a single assessment for 200 students—now only took him four days. He also wove the results of his data analysis with current learning science that shows how more low-stakes assessment results in greater learning outcomes. By alleviating unnecessary high-stakes pressure on students, he saw an improvement in their information retention and application, and also in their satisfaction with his courses. He noted that while it would otherwise be a difficult task to pull off, the Gradescope environment helped him to do that very effectively.

Professor Blomgren observed the positive reception by both instructors and students, noting that Gradescope’s intuitive user interface and workflow experience made for a successful transition. To date, SDSU has trained over 1,000 faculty members on how to use Gradescope.

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Involving faculty in a research-informed manner ensures we're allocating both human capital, as well as financial resources, to tools that faculty deemed successful.

Sean Hauze
Director of Instructional Technology Services, San Diego State University
University of Wollongong in Dubai
[pasted_image_0_:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@3cd9a827
At San Diego State University, we recognize the need for a more seamless, equitable and technology friendly way of doing assessment.
Sean Hauze
Director of Instructional Technology Services, San Diego State University
University of Wollongong in Dubai
[pasted_image_0_:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@19cda8e6
At San Diego State University, we recognize the need for a more seamless, equitable and technology friendly way of doing assessment.
Peter Blomgren
Professor of Math & Statistics, San Diego State University
University of Wollongong in Dubai

By the numbers

36,000+
Total students
203
Degree programs

Location

San Diego, CA, USA

Institution type

Higher Education / Public Research University

Mission

San Diego State University’s mission is to provide research-oriented, high-quality education for undergraduate and graduate students and to contribute to the solution of problems through excellence and distinction in teaching, research, and service.