Professor Martin Baumann Nominated for Teaching Award


On December 1, 2015, the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC), which promotes the advancement of engineering education worldwide, will present the GEDC Airbus Diversity Award. The aim of the initiative is to recognize individuals who support and promote diversity in engineering education. Professor Martin Baumann from the Institute of Applied Medical Engineering has been chosen as one of the finalists for the 2015 Award.  

  Professor Martin Baumann © (c) Thorsten Epping

The scientist was selected for adapting the University’s online assessment process, enabling students with disabilities and diverse learners to be assessed on an equal basis with all students. Three out of 29 researchers from 13 countries were nominated to present their projects at the 2015 GDEC conference, taking place between November 30 and December 2, 2015.   

Professor Baumann, who has won the 2013 RWTH Teaching Award, seeks to optimize the e-assessment process at the University. Electronic examinations make it possible to assess student learning in different modes and at different competence levels.

Audio exams, for instance, allow students to provide oral answers to exam questions, so it is not necessary for the examinee to answer exam questions in writing or using a computer mouse. Another example is virtual microscopy exams, where the examinee analyzes digitized microscope specimens: in this way, students with disabilities are able to use the mouse pointer or a virtual keyboard, or provide oral answers. Other possibilities investigated by Baumann include enlarged or contrast-rich representations on a computer screen or the use of audio exam players which allow visually impaired students to have test questions read aloud to them.

Professor Baumann is working directly with students to create the interfaces and devices required to meet their needs. Since 2004, about 35,000 students have taken adapted electronic exams; this semester, it is expected that about 20,000 students will benefit from e-assessment opportunities. As Baumann explains, “electronic exams are not superior to written or oral exams as such, but they offer a broad range of different interfaces and a strong potential to improve the quality of examinations, which has not been fully exploited as yet.”