June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Design in Engineering Education
22.205.1 - 22.205.13
Analysis of End of the Semester Student Reflective Memos and Peer Evaluations Collected Over Multiple Years from Real World Multidisciplinary Capstone Design ExperiencesHaving students articulate and reflect upon their experience is a valuable andimportant way to reinforce an appreciation for lessons learned in the context ofcapstone design. Taken in concert with peer evaluations, end of the semesterstudent reflective memos are also an invaluable source of assessmentinformation and can provide guidance for continuous improvement of educationalprocesses in line with ABET criteria and outcomes. However, concerns about theproper use of these reviews abound. Foremost is the quality and consistency ofpeer reviews – whether they are reliable to be included as a component ofperformance measure. Then, the concerns extend to the qualitative andsubjective nature of reflections – how the capstone design courses caneffectively incorporate them as feedback to the course pedagogy. Becausereflective memos do not readily lend themselves to numerical analysis, they canbe easily overlooked over time and the value they potentially represent lost.This paper provides an analysis of end of the semester student reflective memoscollected over five years from a capstone course based on real worldmultidisciplinary design experiences. Disciplinary participation included studentsfrom biomedical, computer systems, electrical, industrial, materials andmechanical engineering. Questions derived from NSF research on capstoneassessment were used to elicit student responses . The analysis includesstudies on how students’ self-assessment correlated with their performances inthe course; how peer reviews correlated with instructors’ assessment based onother objective indicators; and the development of quantifiable indicators forotherwise qualitative reflections as feedback to the course. We have foundstudents to be surprisingly candid and frank about what they have learned. Overtime we have observed common themes that emerge amongst studentsconcerning their ability to deal with project changes and team dynamics and havecharted the resulting ebb and flow of enthusiasm and motivation over the courseof a semester. Characteristics specific to particular disciplines will behighlighted, along with changes made in instructional methods to improveteamwork, communication, and the design process. Denny Davis, Steven Beyerlein, Phillip Thompson, Olakunle Harrison, MichaelTrevisan, “Assessments for Capstone Engineering Design: TransferableIntegrated Design Engineering Education,” NSF Grants HER/DUE 0404924 andDUE 0717561, February 4, 2009.
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