Welcome Pilot Test Instructors for MC3PA!

Measuring Collaboration in Complex Computerized Performance Assessments

count me in!

We are recruiting instructors with postsecondary students having introductory electronics understanding (e.g., basic applications of Ohm's Law) to administer a quick simulated electronics activity during Fall 2018 classes. As thanks, you will receive a stipend check, a report on your students' performance, and a useful activity to supplement your curriculum! NOTE: This is a one-time activity—not lengthy lesson materials. Read on for more details!

Project Information

What is the project?

  • MC3PA is a research project designed to help researchers gain a better understanding of students' collaborative problem solving (CPS) skills (aka, "teamwork").
  • The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in partnership with Educational Testing Service (ETS), The Concord Consortium, and the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD).

Why is this work important?

  • CPS is becoming increasingly important in the STEM workforce. Over 80% of employers rate collaborative skills as very important for success.
  • Collaborative activities contribute to deeper understanding of educational content. But how do we measure or detect or begin to improve CPS skills? We need your help!

What are the benefits?

  • Each postsecondary instructor completing the study's requirements will receive a $500 stipend, instructional materials, a quick useful activity that fits electronics, physics, and pre-engineering programs, and feedback on their students' performance.
  • This activity provides another application of Ohm's Law—this time practicing the employability skill of "teamwork."
  • This activity provides another opportunity to integrate simulation and communication technology into your instruction.
  • By helping researchers better understand, detect, and measure CPS skills, together we can design curriculum that better prepares students for the workplace.

The Activity

Participating instructors will receive detailed instructions, but here is a brief overview of our study and what we ask of pilot test instructors and students.

Step 1. Reserve computers and complete pre-surveys

  • Reserve an internet-connected computer lab equipped with the Chrome browser—one computer per student.
  • Complete a very short MC3PA Instructor Survey about each student (~1 minute/student), predicting their collaboration and electronics skills.

Step 2. Overview the activity

The instructor will introduce the activity to students as described below, but not specifically provide solutions to the problem.

  • Our website simulates a circuit with a DC voltage source and four resistors in series, as shown here.
  • Three-Resistor simulation activity
  • Groups of three students work as a team to obtain a specified voltage drop across each resistor (V1, V2, V3). Each student, working on a separate computer and not known to the other team members, is able to adjust the resistance value of only their resistor (e.g., R1).
  • Team members can communicate only via a "chat window" as they work together, sharing information and strategies, apply Ohm's law, manipulate the circuit—to obtain the goal voltages required of each resistor. They must collaborate to solve this apparently simple problem.
  • Our web server logs all actions and chats (for later analysis), as students complete up to four levels of increasing difficulty over ~40 minutes. Achieving the goals gets more challenging—somewhat like a video game!

Step 3. Students login and complete a Pre-Survey

Before actually starting the activity...

  • The instructor assigns students to their own computers, and briefly introduces the activity (see the Step 2 info above). We can currently handle class sizes up to 60 students.
  • Students login to our project website and complete a MC3PA Student Pre-Survey (~30 minutes) about their background, knowledge of electronics, personality, and communication style. (For class periods under 90 minutes, stop here, and resume with Step 4 on "Day 2.")

Step 4. Implement the Activity

  • The instructor will discretely assign each student a Team Name—three students per team. After students login to our project web site, they identify their assigned Team Name (e.g., Animals), and the program randomly assigns each a member name (e.g., Lion) and the control of one resistor in the Team's circuit.
  • Students watch a brief orientation video, participate in a short tutorial (both are very important!!), and then work with teammates—connected online in real time—to complete up to four levels of the Three Resistors activity within ~40 minutes. (Click below to watch a shortened version of the introductory video.)

Step 5. Complete Post-Survey

After completing the Three-Resistor Activity (or stop after 45 minutes)...

  • Each student completes a MC3PA Student Post-Survey (~5 minutes), answering questions about their experiences during the activity.
  • The instructor completes a MC3PA Instructor Post-Survey (~5 minutes) providing some closing feedback to the MC3PA project team.

Payment and Data Summary

count me in!

Once we see your student log data and completed surveys, we will get your stipend check and a summary of your students' performance on its way, with our thanks for your help!

If you are ready to join our study, providing us with valuable student data from this one 90-minute activity, AND earn a nice stipend for everyone's efforts, click the "Count Me In!" button here so we can get in touch with you for the next steps! And we THANK YOU in advance for helping our research!!


John Chamberlain (chamber@cord.org) will be your point of contact if you have any questions.