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Integrated Science and Engineering Design Assessment to Support Teaching and Learning (Fundamental)

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Fundamental Research in Engineering Education (1)

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Debra Brockway Educational Testing Service

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Ms. Brockway is a Senior Research Associate at Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, NJ, where she leads and contributes to projects exploring innovative approaches to assessment and integrating the STEM subjects. She has M.S. degrees in educational statistics and measurement from Rutgers University and environmental science from NJIT. Prior to joining ETS, Brockway led research focused on incorporating engineering in K-12 science while Assistant Director at the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE). She also taught high school science, where she first became interested in the potential of engineering for engaging students and increasing their understanding of science concepts.

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Engineering design has become an integral part of K-12 science education with the release and adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by almost 20 states. Both the core ideas and practices in the new standards include engineering design. Significant challenges have been described related to the prospect of teaching and assessing this new aspect of the science curriculum. The primary challenges are that few science and general education teachers have the knowledge and skill to guide students in engaging in design and assessments currently being used in the K-12 arena do not measure engineering design and cannot easily be adapted to do so.

There are a few programs that have developed assessments to measure knowledge about aspects of engineering design at the K-12 level. And there is at least one assessment that requires test takers to demonstrate understanding of design as a process by critiquing a hypothetical design process presented as part of the assessment. We are developing an assessment that we intend to be used formatively, to provide teachers with information about their students’ understanding of science concepts and engineering practices that can guide classroom instruction. The assessment is being developed to have students engage in the design process in an interactive virtual environment as they redesign a device. Corresponding materials for teachers will be developed to support teachers’ implementation of the task in the classroom.

Our current work involves investigating the question: To what extent is it possible to provide a sufficient range of simulated design options for testing design choices in a virtual environment that will provide evidence of student design proficiency? We are using an iterative process that includes evidence centered design in developing the assessment and trying it out in various forms. This will provide much needed information about student cognition given the limited research to date related to K-12 engineering in addition to addressing specific questions related to the design of the assessment.

We have created two redesign activities for which we have conducted cognitive interviews with pairs of middle school students as they engage with activities that are presented on paper. Students’ discourse during the activities is being coded with respect to the design changes they are suggesting; the rationale provided for the changes, if any; aspects of the process they are engaging in; and science concepts explicitly discussed. Qualitative analysis of the data collected during cognitive interviews with 28 students using a set of paper-based activities will be presented in the paper followed by a discussion of how those results informed programming the interactive computer-based assessment activity.

Brockway, D. (2017, June), Integrated Science and Engineering Design Assessment to Support Teaching and Learning (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28544

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