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Creating And Using A Performance Measure For The Engineering Design Process

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Teaching Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.336.1 - 8.336.16



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Paper Authors

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Andrew Kline

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

Session 2125

Creating and Using a Performance Measure for the Engineering Design Process

Andrew Kline1, Edmund Tsang1, Betsy Aller1, Johnson Asumadu1, Jim Morgan2, Steven Beyerlein3, and Denny Davis4

1. Western Michigan University, 2. Texas A & M University, 3. University of Idaho, and 4. Washington State University

Introduction Evaluation is the judgment or grading of past performance over a period of time. Assessment (measuring) is using past performance in order to make modifications (improvements) in future performances (Parker, et al., 2001). Assessment identifies an individual’s or group’s strengths, weaknesses that need to be addressed, and insights gained from the assessment that are transferable to other activities, situations, or contexts.

This paper describes both the methodology used to create an integrated performance measure, and the product of a two-day workshop session that resulted in a performance measure for the engineering design process. The new performance measure was created at Western Michigan University (WMU) by a team of fourteen faculty members and administrators representing the major branches of engineering - electrical, civil, mechanical, and chemical - as well as an assortment of other technical and non-technical disciplines. The methodology applied consists of (1) forming a team with diverse training and perspectives, (2) recruiting an unbiased facilitator versed in the methodology and familiar with the process area, (3) synthesizing a descriptive definition that accurately and completely describes the skill set being measured, (4) analyzing behaviors of an expert who displays outstanding performance in all dimensions of the skill set, (5) selecting the top ten factors which account for variability in performance associated with the skill set, (6) proposing positively-phrased descriptors of the skill set at five performance levels ranging from “novice” to “expert”; (7) articulating and agreeing on five attributes associated with each performance level for the top ten factors, and (8) testing the classification and measurement scheme by reflecting on performance of individuals at each performance level in several different contexts.

The new performance measure can be used as either analytic or holistic rubrics for assessing and evaluating engineering design process skills. They provide a means for an assessor (“measurer”) or student (“learner”) to distinguish skills levels in engineering (performance chart); apply a comprehensive design process assessment rubric to a performance activity; and utilize a design process evaluation rubric. The flexibility of the rubrics permits easy selection of topics or skills to include in an assessment or evaluation exercise, if the measurer or learner wishes to focus on a subset of specific skills.

The development methodology encourages the use of a broad base of expertise to make the rubric outcomes widely applicable rather than discipline specific. The methodology can generate or stimulate discussion during faculty training regarding assessment activities in general, or as applied to a specific course. Suggestions for use of the performance measure are given to integrate these new measurement tools in engineering design activities or courses.

Kline, A. (2003, June), Creating And Using A Performance Measure For The Engineering Design Process Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12661

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