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A Two-Dimensional Typology for Characterizing Student Peer and Instructor Feedback in Capstone Design Project Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Works in Progress: Classroom Practice

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Ada Hurst University of Waterloo Orcid 16x16

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Ada Hurst is a Lecturer in the Department of Management Sciences at the University of Waterloo. She has taught and coordinated the capstone design project course for the Management Engineering program since 2011. She also teaches courses in organizational behavior, theory, and technology. She received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering, followed by Master of Applied Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Management Sciences, all from the University of Waterloo. Ada’s research and teaching interests include decision making under uncertainty, subjective probability, gender issues in STEM disciplines, design teaching, experiential and online learning, team processes, and expert vs. novice review in engineering design.

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Oscar G. Nespoli University of Waterloo

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Oscar Nespoli is a Continuing Lecturer in Engineering and Mechanical Design in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo (Waterloo). Oscar joined Waterloo following a 23-year career in research, engineering and management practice in industry and government. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of engineering design methodologies, design practice, engineering education and high performance, lightweight, composite materials design. Oscar is passionate about teaching engineering and, as part of his current role, maintains strong industry-university relations and a commitment to remain close to engineering design and management practice.

Before joining Waterloo, Oscar held the position of Sr. Program Manager at L-3 Communications Wescam (L-3 Wescam), a manufacturer of airborne surveillance systems for public safety, security and defense markets. Oscar had been employed at L-3 Wescam for 11 years, where he led multi-disciplinary teams toward the successful development and commercialization of several products to various markets. He was responsible for L-3 Wescam’s largest defense programs.

Oscar worked at the Canadian Forces Department of National Defense failure analysis lab, where he was the Canadian Project Officer for an international program on F/A-18 bonded repair, and prior to that, a Research Engineer at the Canadian Space Agency. Oscar designed and qualified space flight hardware for a space experiment for Space Shuttle Flight STS-52 in 1993.

Earlier in his career Oscar led the design and development of products employing composite materials at Owens Corning Canada and contributed to the development of novel production machinery for the footwear industry with Bata Engineering.

Oscar earned a Master of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering specializing in lightweight composite material structures from the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada). He became a licensed professional engineer in 1986.

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This work in progress describes a study that is being conducted in a management engineering capstone design series of courses at a large Canadian university. The courses utilize a design review format that leverages feedback from both the course instructor (design expert) and student peers (design novices) in an informal face-to-face format. Prior research studying the efficacy of peer and expert feedback has found that expert comments and suggestions are often not well-understood or utilized by novices. Thus, in some domains, students have been shown to benefit more from feedback from multiple peers than a single expert. While the importance of peer review in the engineering and architecture disciplines has been established, there is little prior research on the quantity, content, type, and impact of feedback provided by novices, as compared to experts, in the context of engineering design. The objective of this qualitative research study is to formally characterize, compare and contrast expert and novice feedback in engineering design review meetings. Preliminary observations have suggested that the addition of novice questions and feedback to the design review meetings enhances the quality and quantity of formative assessments. This study uses more robust data collection methods and analysis to refine and validate our initial findings. We video recorded and are in the process of transcribing 28 hours of review meetings of 14 capstone design teams that occurred in 2015. A minority of the meetings utilized instructor-review only, whereas the rest incorporated both student and instructor review. Using a grounded theory framework, the video transcripts will be coded and analyzed to better understand the differences in feedback provided by experts and novices. A literature review on the potential differences that may arise due to experience in the design process leads us to propose a new two dimensional typology of feedback that captures both its content - the design stage/activity being addressed – as well as the form the feedback takes. A portion of the already-transcribed review meetings are used to illustrate feedback comments of various permutations of content and form arising from instructor and student reviewers. In future work, the chosen typology will be utilized, and likely further refined, to analyze the complete transcribed data. The overall study aims to contribute to our understanding of the effectiveness of face-to-face peer-review in engineering design education.

Hurst, A., & Nespoli, O. G. (2016, June), A Two-Dimensional Typology for Characterizing Student Peer and Instructor Feedback in Capstone Design Project Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26477

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