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Capstone Design Through Cooperative Learning

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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

DEED Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.289.1 - 9.289.13

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Paper Authors

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Sig Lillevik

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

Session 1725

Capstone Design through Cooperative Learning

Sigurd L. Lillevik

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department University of Portland Portland, OR 97223


Cooperative learning activities for a yearlong capstone design sequence include many of the same practices used by design teams in industry. For this course, teams of 3 – 4 students solve an open-ended problem under the guidance of a faculty advisor and in conjunction with practicing professionals. Specific cooperative learning activities include in-class exercises, weekly status, approval meetings, team meetings, technical documents, program reviews, web sites, change control, prototyping, and final presentations. Assessment data from the students, faculty advisors, and industry representatives indicate that the course structure improves writing, presentation, interpersonal, professional, and higher-level thinking skills.


Student-centered learning paradigms and, specifically, cooperative learning activities have proven to be very effective teaching methods. This paper reports on applying cooperative learning techniques to a yearlong capstone design sequence. Using these methods, instructors who teach or whom are planning to teach a capstone design sequence, will acquire an understanding of what works well at one university and may wish to adapt the practices to their environment.

The specific setting for this course is a small, private school located in the Northwest and in a city with numerous high-technology companies. As a result, the methods may or may not be applicable to a large, state school and, depending upon location, interaction with practicing professionals may be problematic. We will provide an overview of the design course but will not go into intricate details such as individual lecture topics, document contents, project funding, laboratory space, and equipment.

The first section discusses instructional objectives and sets the motivation for the next section, course structure. Here, we define some of the background information such as credit hours, team size, etc. In the subsequent section, we review the common design process and map it to the

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

Lillevik, S. (2004, June), Capstone Design Through Cooperative Learning Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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