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Capstone Design Courses And Assessment: A National Study

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Capstone Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.286.1 - 9.286.18



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Paper Authors

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Steven Beyerlein

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Denny Davis

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Yi Min Huang

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Larry McKenzie

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Michael Trevisan

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

Session 2225

Capstone Design Courses and Assessment: A National Study

Larry J. McKenzie, Michael S. Trevisan, Denny C. Davis, Steven W. Beyerlein

Duke Energy/Washington State University/University of Idaho


ABET EC 2000 Criteria 3 and 4 specifically focus on student learning objectives and associated assessment and evaluation practices that are often integral to capstone design courses. This paper reports findings from a two-phase study conducted to better understand the nature and scope of assessment practices within capstone design courses across engineering disciplines, and in particular, the extent to which current practices align with ABET EC 2000 expectations. Phase 1 provides the findings from a nationwide survey of engineering disciplines in the U.S. with accredited engineering programs. One hundred nineteen of 274 institutions surveyed returned usable surveys for an institutional response rate of 43%. Faculty at these institutions were asked a variety of questions about the nature of the capstone experience, type of assessments employed, and the extent to which current practices align with ABET EC 2000 Criteria 3 and 4 expectations. Faculty members report that some ABET EC 2000 Criteria are currently not well assessed in capstone design courses and expressed interest in collaborating with colleagues across the country on capstone design assessment, development, and use. Phase 2 reports the findings from interviews and surveys of 98 faculty members identified from Phase 1. Faculty members were asked a variety of questions about classroom assessment practices in capstone design courses. Findings suggest uncertainty on the part of many faculty members concerning sound assessment practices, including writing objectives, using appropriate assessment strategies, sampling material appropriately, and controlling for mis- measurement of student achievement. Based on the findings a variety of recommendations are reported in this paper.


The quality of teaching and learning in programs preparing undergraduate students for engineering practice is a focal point of national interest1. Reasons for the concern include declining enrollment in undergraduate engineering programs and the need to increase and expand the professional competency of the engineering workforce. Engineering design, in particular, has received considerable scrutiny. Proposals to enhance engineering design education have included the development of design expectations across the curriculum, team-based learning activities, and assessments to gauge student attainment of outcomes2,3.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Beyerlein, S., & Davis, D., & Huang, Y. M., & McKenzie, L., & Trevisan, M. (2004, June), Capstone Design Courses And Assessment: A National Study Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13900

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