2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Challenges and Experiences in Implementing a Specifications Grading System in an Upper-Division Undergraduate Computer Networks Course

Presented at Computing and Information Technology Division (CIT) Technical Session 3

Computer Networks is an important course in most undergraduate curriculums in Computing disciplines. The course learning objectives cover a broad range of topics and skills. The students are expected to achieve mastery of the broad layered architecture of the Internet, while also demonstrating a deeper level of understanding of each layer. Higher level of mastery can either indicate a more deep understanding of each layer or an in-depth understanding of one layer. Traditional point-based grading systems fail to capture mastery over concepts and skills in the course. Students also find it difficult to ascertain where they stand in the class. Specifications grading formalizes the skills and understanding of concepts that students have to demonstrate in order to achieve a particular final letter grade in the course. The system also supports revising and resubmitting student work, thereby inculcating the interest to learn rather than achieve a minimum number of points. In this paper, I present my experience in developing and implementing a specifications grading system for an upper-division undergraduate computer networks course over two semesters. In the paper, I will present how to implement a strong specifications grading system for computer networks by mapping the learning outcomes map to assessment targets. Further, I will elaborate how the assessments can be bundled to form specifications for the final letter grade. I will also elaborate on the teaching and grading load to handle revisions. This system was implemented over two semesters - Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. My learnings from each attempt and the changes I made in the second iteration will also be presented. Overall, the grading system was accepted positively across two semesters, without increasing the grading load on the instructor.

Download paper (1.05 MB)

Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper? Visit the ASEE document repository at peer.asee.org for more tools and easy citations.