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Design Of An Instrument To Assess Understanding Of Engineering Design

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Assessment and Evaluation in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.360.1 - 15.360.21



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Paper Authors

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Kristen Facciol University of Toronto

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Lisa Romkey University of Toronto

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Jason Foster University of Toronto

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

Design of an Instrument to Assess Understanding of Engineering Design Division of Engineering Science, University of Toronto


Engineering design education is an important element of any undergraduate engineering curriculum. It is also an element undergoing constant evolution, reflecting the rapidly evolving needs of engineering industry and academia. Engineering graduates are expected to contribute effectively as members of multidisciplinary engineering design teams. Enabling this success requires that engineering design educators develop an understanding of the diverse disciplinary perspectives on engineering design and of the evolving perspectives of their students.

This paper first describes the disciplinary perspectives that emerged as a result of some preliminary research on engineering design education, and then describes the development of an instrument for evaluating individual understandings of engineering design. Disciplinary perspectives were explored through interviewing the instructors of four capstone design courses in different engineering disciplines within a large engineering Faculty. Each instructor was asked about their instructional history, the requirements and expectations of graduates from their respective engineering undergraduate program, and their past attempts to understand course outcomes.

Although instrument testing is still required, the instrument developed can be presented to a group of students at the beginning, mid-stream and completion of their capstone design course. It can also be used to track changes in students’ perceptions, as well as the influence that a particular discipline may have on an individual’s understanding of engineering design. Course instructors will then be able to identify which aspects of their courses are most influential and which require more development.

Recognition of the design methodologies and expectations within specific engineering disciplines is an important first step in developing a curriculum that enables engineers to work across those disciplines. An instrument that supports the analysis of a Faculty’s progression towards this end is a valuable addition to the engineering design educator’s toolbox.

Introduction and Motivation

The goal of this project was to design an instrument to assess the student perception of engineering design and how it evolves through courses and over time. The instrument design was informed by examining four capstone design courses from across the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto; more specifically, from the disciplines of Chemical, Electrical & Computer, Industrial and Mineral Engineering. The instrument was also informed by the expectations of an engineering graduate, as outlined by both the accreditation board and the university, as well as past attempts in the literature and industry at establishing similar forms of assessment. In the longer-term, this instrument will be used to assess and compare student perspectives on design from across engineering disciplines.

Facciol, K., & Romkey, L., & Foster, J. (2010, June), Design Of An Instrument To Assess Understanding Of Engineering Design Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16905

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