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Conference paper2023

Formative sprints to improve feedback, learning, and fidelity in practices-based activities

Lidfors, Lena; Lidfors Lindqvist, Anna; Willey, Keith; Francis, Beata


The success of Engineering graduates transition to professional practice depends on the achievement and application of both their technical and professional competencies (Scott and Yates 2002). To ensure the integration and the development of these skills, there has been a move to incorporating more practice based and authentic contexts in engineering education. 
Mechanical Design Fundamentals Studio 1 is the first studio undertaken by mechanical and mechatronics engineering students in their 2nd year at University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The primary objective is for students to collaborate in teams to achieve the goals of the Warman Design and Build Competition (Warman Design and Build Competition, 2023). This studio is an opportunity for students to apply the theoretical knowledge they have learned from previous subjects to a real­world engineering challenge. Through involvement in the competition, they will develop essential skills in the design process and project management while developing and demonstrating creativity, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving abilities all critical for successful engineering practice (Male et al. 2009). 
The investigation explores the correlation between the indicative grade level of formative assessment and the portfolio grade and to what extent students used the formative feedback from the Sprints to improve their learning and achievement as demonstrated in their final portfolio. 
In Agile methodology, "a sprint is a set period of time where all the work is done." A series of task­related formative "Sprints" are used "to motivate everyone by defining an outcome and a clear plan for success" Atlassian (2023). In Mechanical Design Fundamentals Studio 1, the intention of formative sprints is to increase authenticity, assessment fidelity, guide students learning and provide feedback. In each sprint students undertake design exercises that contribute to their final portfolio. During and after each sprint feedback is provided by studio facilitators. Students are expected to reflect on, respond to, and use feedback to make improvements as they are working towards their final submission. A random sample of students from each grade of the portfolio (fail to high distinction) was chosen for the investigation. Students' feedback from each sprint and their final submission were reviewed and coded to identify the different characteristics of evidence. 
The formative Sprints were effective in promoting student engagement, reflection, and the use of feedback for improvement, developing their feedback literacy (Carless and Baud, 2018). While their formative nature increased assessment fidelity (Sadler, 2010). 
The use of integrated achievement formative Sprints into practice-based learning activities facilitated feedback for learning and improvement, leading to increased demonstrated learning achievement. Importantly, without reducing the fidelity of the subject's assessment activities. 


Authentic learning and assessment; Assessment fidelity; Feedback; Feedback Literacy

Published in

Title: Proceedings of AAEE 2023
Publisher: AAEE


34th Australian Association for Engineering Education Conference (AAEE2023), 3-6 December 2023, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia