Asee peer logo

Assessing Student Work In An Introductory Design Class

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Assessing Design Coursework

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.229.1 - 13.229.18



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Richard Bannerot University of Houston

visit author page

Richard Bannerot is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston. His research interests are in the thermal sciences and engineering education, especially heat transfer, alternative energy, thermal system design, and design education. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Texas.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Assessing Student Work in an Introductory Design Class


Assessment of student work in an engineering design class can more subjective than most engineering students (and sometimes faculty) are comfortable with. Students, and faculty alike, may be more comfortable with a more quantitative grading scheme. Such an approach has been developed for use in an introductory design class in which the process of design is emphasized over the product of design. This paper presents the summarized versions of the assignments in the class offered in the fall of 2007 and completed by 68 students. Twenty-five per cent of the course grade was determined from team performances on a two-month long, design, fabricate and test project. Seventy per cent of the team project grade was based on quantifiable components such as test results and reporting requirements leaving only 30% of the project grade (or about 7% of the course grade) to be determined from a “subjective” evaluation of the artifact (but even this evaluation was guided by the publicized rubric). The remaining 75% of the grade was determine from individually completed assignments (nine homework assignments, two smaller projects and two closed book exams) which addressed various aspects of the design process. The grades were about one letter grade higher (3.37/4.0 compared to 2.47/4.0 or B+ compared to C+) for the team project compared to the individual work.


Design is, at least in part, a creative process, and its evaluation can be highly subjective. However, all design requires a fundamental skill set ranging from a keen eye for form and color and the manual skills associated with producing images in two and three dimensions for the studio artist to a strong set of analysis tools, a knowledge of materials, and an understanding of manufacturability, standards, team-work, soft constraints and budget for the engineer. For both the studio artist and the engineer, the artifact produced is all that matters in practice. However, in an academic setting, it is the design process that is being taught. Therefore, it is the process, along with the artifact produced, that should be evaluated. Students also benefit more when their process is evaluated since they understand more precisely how to improve. Evaluation of the process tends to be more objective compared to the artifact assessment which may be associated with the failure of a component or a subjective comment from the instructor. This paper describes projects/assignments given to individuals and teams in the first of two courses that focus on design in our curriculum.

Our BSME program requires two “design” courses: a three-hour sophomore course (two- hour lecture and three-hour studio each week) and a three-hour senior (capstone design) course (two three-hour studios each week).. The major products from both courses are team-produced “design solutions”. The evaluation of a design solution is difficult, subjective and sometimes controversial as noted above. Further, assessing individual

Bannerot, R. (2008, June), Assessing Student Work In An Introductory Design Class Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3509

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015