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Measure What You Value: Developing Detailed Assessment Criteria For Engineering Capstone Projects.

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Assessment & Quality; Accreditation in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.924.1 - 10.924.15



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Paper Authors

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John Rowe

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

Measure What You Value: Developing Detailed Assessment Criteria for Engineering Capstone Projects

John W. K. Rowe Sheffield Hallam University, UK.


An important area of development in the UK and other systems of higher education over the last decade has been the wide spread use of specific statements describing the intended learning outcomes students achieve, in contrast to using syllabus content to define courses and programs. In measuring how well students have satisfied an intended learning outcome one approach is to use developed assessment criteria that specify qualitatively, by level of achievement, student performance. Writing developed assessment criteria requires faculty to make explicit complex areas of professional practice; but on the other hand, the process produces a number of important educational benefits one of which is assessment transparency. Additionally, if the developed assessment criteria are communicated to students before submission of work, students are able to engage with low stakes assessment tasks, and to use the feedback generated to improve performance via effective peer and self-assessment prior to formal assessment. In this paper, the development of learning outcomes and developed assessment criteria currently used by 65 members of teaching staff, to assess 300 undergraduate students in the five elements of assessment of final year capstone projects are reported. The approach used in the development of the scheme, and a comparison with its predecessor are described and benefits for students, staff and the institution are considered.


This paper describes the development of effective marking, grading and feedback approaches relating to the learning outcomes achieved by students undertaking individual technical projects in the final year of undergraduate study (referred to here simply as projects). In the UK, the term assessment is used to characterize all of the processes relating to the grading, marking and evaluation of students’ learning activities and is used in that context in this paper. The development took place in an engineering school with approximately 1200 undergraduate and 300 postgraduate students, in a UK university where projects are supervised on a one-to-one basis.

Projects feature in many engineering programmes and, in departments with traditional curricula and pedagogic orientations, are one of the most highly valued experiences a student undertakes prior to graduation. In departments with progressive pedagogic policies, the project’s role is even more significant as an element of problem based learning approaches in engineering (see for example, Problem Based Learning in Engineering1). In UK undergraduate engineering degrees the project typically represents between 25% and 33% of the academic credit of the final year and represents a significant use of departmental resources. Within recent quality assurance Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Rowe, J. (2005, June), Measure What You Value: Developing Detailed Assessment Criteria For Engineering Capstone Projects. Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14439

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