By Laura Alipoon - January 25, 2018


My 2017 Subaru Outback is the first car I have owned that calculates my second-by-second gas mileage as well as the average mileage for the tank.  Really cool.  My car collects the data and shares it with me whether I care to look at it or not.

My analysis of the data showed me that all of the following significantly lower my gas mileage:

  • Driving up hill,
  • Starting from a dead stop,
  • Punching it to zoom in front of someone.

In order to improve my miles per gallon I started changing my driving habits.  I drive many hills daily, and I decided to see if changing my habits could get me better mileage. I experimented implementing changes while driving to Big Bear (a really big hill).

When I left my home, the mileage for the tank was 22.2.  As I started up the hill to Big Bear my second-by-second mileage showed 5.2 miles/gallon.  Sheesh!  “This is not good”, I thought.  In time the mileage improved because the car reached the speed I wanted to go and the hill wasn’t quite as steep.  I noticed that when a curve was coming I got better mileage if I took my foot off the gas pedal to slow for the curve (99.9 MPG while foot is off the gas) instead of continuing at a fast pace and braking for the curve (probably better for the brakes as well).

I also noticed that as I didn’t have to stop for stop signs or stop lights, until I reached the Big Bear area, my mileage was better for that reason as well.   Once I reached Big Bear there were some stop signs and stop lights prior to reaching my destination.  I took my foot off the gas well before needing to stop and coasted for a bit prior to stopping (didn’t go so slow that I annoyed people behind me).

When I arrived at my destination I checked the mileage on the tank and it was 24.2; two miles/hour better than when I left home!  I used the same techniques on the way home and achieved 26.2 mpg!  Going downhill doesn’t use as much gas (99.9 mpg while coasting).  Who knew that going up the hill to Big Bear could allow me to get 4 mpg more than the stop and go at home.

MPG Driving Condition
Overall 22.2 Before leaving home
5.2 Starting up the hill to Big Bear
99.9 Car reached desired speed, hill not as steep, took foot off the gas pedal to slow for a curve
Overall 24.2 Arrival in Big Bear
99.9 Coasting downhill headed to Colton
Overall 26.2 Arrival at home in Colton

I looked at the data, analyzed it, experimented with my driving habits, looked at the data after I made changes and was quite happy with the results.

Program assessment is just like assessing miles per gallon in my car.  The same principles apply when assessing a program, course, or assignment.  Know that a “stop and go” strategy will use more energy than doing assessment routinely.  Collect data, analyze it, and experiment with your knowledge to discover what will improve student success. 

Tweaks here and there may be all we need to increase our mileage in program effectiveness.