Asee peer logo

Identifying Deficiencies in Engineering Problem-solving Skills

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: First Year Programming (1)

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lizzie Santiago West Virginia University

visit author page

Lizzie Y. Santiago, Ph.D., is a Teaching Associate Professor for the freshman engineering program in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. She holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and has postdoctoral training in neural tissue engineering and molecular neurosciences. She teaches freshman engineering courses and supports the outreach and recruiting activities of the college. Her research interests include neural tissue engineering, stem cell research, absorption of air pollutants in human upper airways, attrition and university retention, increasing student awareness and interest in research and engineering, STEM education, and recruitment and retention of women and minorities.

visit author page


Anika Coolbaugh Pirkey West Virginia University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Anika Pirkey is currently a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant with the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at West Virginia University (WVU) with a research focus in cancer immunology. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BSChE and BME Certificate in 2017 from West Virginia University (WVU) and spent two years as a Chemical Engineer in the Pilot Plant Division of the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC) in South Charleston, West Virginia before pursuing her graduate education.

Mrs. Pirkey also works as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Fundamentals of Engineering Department as a continuation of her undergraduate research focusing on increasing retention rates of non-calculus ready first year engineering students. Other publications to which she has contributed include "Introducing First Year Engineering Students to Engineering Reasoning" and "Critical Thinking Skills in First Year Engineering Students" presented at the Annual ASEE Conferences in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

Awards include 1st Place in the Student Poster Session - Individual Researchers Category and 1st Place in the North Central US Region Student Paper Competition, both of which were received at the 2017 ASEE Zone II Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Problem solving is the process of finding a solution to a problem. Problem solving skills are essential for student success in Engineering. Engineering programs are committed to improving students’ problem solving skills. However, there is no standard way of evaluating engineering problem solving that is valid, reliable, and easy to use. Most classroom assessments of problem solving are focused on the correctness of the final result rather than focusing on the reasoning leading to the result.

In this study, a problem solving rubric developed for Physics students was adapted to assess the problem solving skills of engineering students. Unlike most rubrics used in engineering courses, this rubric grades the thought process, and splits the problem solving approach into separate categories: Useful Description, Engineering and Math Approach, Application of Engineering, Mathematical Procedures, and Logical Progression. In this project, the rubric was implemented to identify deficiencies in problem solving in first year non-calculus ready students enrolled in an engineering curriculum.

Santiago, L., & Pirkey, A. C. (2020, June), Identifying Deficiencies in Engineering Problem-solving Skills Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34744

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: © 2020 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