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Assessing Group Learning Using Wikis: An Application To Capstone Design

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Capstone Design Projects in Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.237.1 - 11.237.16



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Paper Authors

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Kelley Racicot Washington State University

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Charles Pezeshki Washington State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Group Learning Using Wikis: An Application to Capstone Design


In this paper, we discuss the use of a wiki for documenting social knowledge in the context of an industrially-based capstone design course and for assessing group learning. Students create a knowledge management (KM) tool for the explicit purposes of sharing lessons learned with wider audiences and engaging in active group assessment, where students actively develop the product to be assessed. Because students are encouraged to verbalize in their own words concepts learned in class, the wiki reinforces learning and serves as a formative assessment tool, or perception check, for students and professors. This case analysis involved collecting feedback from key stakeholders, including Advisory Board and Industrial Sponsor interviews, student focus group discussions and assessment surveys. In addition, the wiki itself serves as a summative assessment tool. A difference approach was used to analyze rater perceptions of actual and expected performance. An average improvement score, based on a rubric, was obtained that minimizes unreliability for small, variable groups like advisory boards.

1. Introduction

New, creative uses of web-based group platforms, such as wikis and weblogs in industry and education, have been adopted for project management, to support “folio thinking”1, to encourage reflective practice and to build communities of practice. This qualitative and quantitative study looks at the pilot semester of using social software in a well- established senior capstone design course to support collaborative knowledge management and group assessment. We want to answer the question: How do we assess team or group learning?

From this research question, we developed three project goals:

1. Leverage the group-editing capabilities of WSU Wiki to facilitate a new course dimension: collaborative knowledge management. 2. Pilot the use of social software as a tool for assessing group learning and performance. 3. Collect feedback from students, College Advisory Board members and Industrial Project Sponsors in order to assess student performance and meta-level project efficacy.

Background: The Capstone Industrial Design Clinic

Team-oriented student design3 has been part of this ABET-certified mechanical engineering program for many years. In its current form in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University, for the past 10 years, student groups work on revenue-sponsored engineering projects ($60-$80,000 annually) for industry partners. The projects are completed in one semester. Students are responsible

Racicot, K., & Pezeshki, C. (2006, June), Assessing Group Learning Using Wikis: An Application To Capstone Design Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--207

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