Asee peer logo

Design Practica as Authentic Assessments in First-year Engineering Design Courses

Download Paper |


2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session IV

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Conference Sessions

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Christopher McComb Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Christopher McComb is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs with courtesy appointments in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering and the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. He earned dual B.S. degrees in Civil and Mechanical Engineering from California State University Fresno as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. His research merges perspectives from psychology, computer science, and engineering design to create better human systems. This includes both systems of humans (teams, organizations, marketplaces) as well as systems that interact with humans (intelligent design tools, smart products).

visit author page


Catherine G.P. Berdanier Pennsylvania State University, University Park Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Catherine G.P. Berdanier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from The University of South Dakota, her M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research interests include graduate-level engineering education, including inter- and multidisciplinary graduate education, online engineering cognition and learning, and engineering communication.

visit author page


Jessica Dolores Menold Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Jessica Menold is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Design and Professional Programs and the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department. Prior to beginning her position at Penn State, Jessica worked as a post-doctoral fellow at RWTH Aachen University in the Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Management group exploring the role of prototyping technology in startups and mass-customization applications. She received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on Design Theory and Methodology and she is interested in exploring prototyping and its role throughout the product development process. Recently, she has been studying the reliability and accuracy of off-the-shelf "maker" tools such as 3D scanners and 3D printers in order to understand their potential for impact in bio-reverse engineering in emerging, resource-constrained markets.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This paper describes the design and evaluation of a novel assessment for first-year engineering design courses that is rooted in an authentic design challenge. This approach modifies the traditional written-exam approach typically found in engineering courses, which is inherently inauthentic and cannot easily capture the exploratory nature of engineering design. Our assessment improves alignment with common learning objectives found in first-year engineering design courses and additionally prepares students for the type of case study interviews that are increasingly common for entry-level engineering jobs. To evaluate our assessment, 50 first-year students completed the engineering design self-efficacy instrument once before beginning the assessment and a second time approximately 48 hours later upon completion of a reflection assignment. In addition, students retrospectively reported their perceived change in self-efficacy during the assessment. Analysis shows that students perceived a large retrospective increase in skill level, despite only a small increase in directly measured self-efficacy. These results are analyzed in light of the Dunning-Kruger effect and we posit that the assessment helps to align students’ self-efficacy with their actual skill level. Increased alignment of self-efficacy with skill level may minimize student frustration when encountering challenging tasks in the future, potentially increasing retention of engineering students as well as facilitating the development of lifelong learning attitudes.

McComb, C., & Berdanier, C. G., & Menold, J. D. (2018, July), Design Practica as Authentic Assessments in First-year Engineering Design Courses Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey. 10.18260/1-2--31391

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: © 2018 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