Publication Details

S. Nikolic, T. Suesse, T. Goldfinch & T. McCarthy, "Relationship between learning in the engineering laboratory and student evaluations," in Proceedings of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference, 2015, pp. 1-9.


BACKGROUND OR CONTEXT This study is built upon previous research that developed an instrument to measure the learning objectives of the laboratory across the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains with research that investigated student evaluations of sessional laboratory demonstrators, laboratory experiments and facilities. This research highlighted the importance of laboratory work in engineering education, and the need to improve our understanding of how learning occurs in the laboratory. PURPOSE OR GOAL Student evaluations are heavily used in higher education, and a greater understanding is needed on how these evaluations relate to learning. APPROACH An instrument used to measure learning in the laboratory called, Measuring the Learning Outcomes of Laboratory Work (MeLOLW), is modified and used as a self-assessment tool by students at the start and end of two engineering laboratory courses. The students perceived improvement in learning across the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domain is compared to student evaluations and to the laboratory exam. DISCUSSION The study found that the student evaluation of the laboratory experiments was influenced by the perceived learning gain in both the cognitive (analytical skills only) and psychomotor domains. No other significant relationship was found. RECOMMENDATIONS/IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSION Student evaluations are very complex and this study showed the relationship and importance of developing laboratory experiments and assessments to enhance learning. More work is needed to understand this relationship in order to facilitate learning in the laboratory.