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Grading the Capstone Written Design Reports: A Comparison of External Judges and Faculty Scores

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Student Evaluation in Design Education

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Amber N. Lyerly East Carolina University

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Amber Lyerly is a 2016 Engineering graduate from East Carolina University. She is pursuing a career as a Mechanical Engineer. While at ECU she was a Research Assistant in the Rapid Prototyping Lab and a Teaching Assistant for a Graphics course that teaches SolidWorks. Lyerly was selected to be a NC Space Grant Scholar for 2014-2015. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers. In the summer of 2015, she was a Mechanical Engineering Intern at Hayward Industries. While at her internship she designed a product which was further developed and implemented into production. In 2013, Lyerly was the Vice President of the ECU Club Golf Team and competed for the National Title at the Kampen Course at Purdue University.

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Gene Dixon East Carolina University

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Gene Dixon is a tenured Associate Professor at East Carolina where he teaches aspiring engineers at the undergraduate level. Previously he has held positions with Union Carbide, Chicago Bridge & Iron, E.I. DuPont & deNemours, Westinghouse Electric, CBS, Viacom and Washington Group. His work experience includes project engineer, program assessor, senior shift manager, TQM coach, and production reactor outage planner, remediation engineer. He gives presentations as a corporate trainer, a teacher, and a motivational speaker. He received a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Management from The University of Alabama in Huntsville, a Masters of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Science in Materials Engineering from Auburn University. He has authored several articles on follower component of leadership and is active in research concerning capstone, engineering education, and leadership processes. He has served as newsletter editor/secretary, program chair, division chair and awards chair in both the Engineering Management and Engineering Economy Divisions of ASEE. He is a fellow of the American Society of Engineering Management and serves as the 2015 ASEM President. Dixon also serves on the Eugene L. Grant Award Committee for the Engineering Economy Division of ASEE. He is a board member of the ASEE Design in Engineering Education Division and Secretary for the ASEE Industrial Engineering Division.

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Capstone projects often require senior engineering students to develop oral and written communications skills. Both reports are sometimes graded by faculty advisors, course coordinators, faculty who are not directly involved with a capstone project (a grading committee) and/or adjunct faculty/advisors. Some programs are known to also use external or industry representatives as external judges. When external judges are used, which may or may not include project sponsors, additional input on oral and written skills, as well as design quality may be evaluated outside of the technical design review process that could be requested. This paper reports on research comparing the capstone project evaluations conducted by external judges and faculty. Faculty and external judges scores were compared using correlation and t-test statistical methods using MiniTab 17. The results indicate external judges gave higher grades. The implications might be that faculty grades are based on academic achievement and external graders are based on project success. These reflect two unique perspectives on the capstone process, which leads to future studies related to what bias affect the scores of faculty and external judges.

Lyerly, A. N., & Dixon, G. (2016, June), Grading the Capstone Written Design Reports: A Comparison of External Judges and Faculty Scores Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25416

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