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Methods Of Assessing Student Learning In Capstone Design Projects With Industry: A Five Year Review

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Capstone Mechanical Engineering Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.855.1 - 7.855.14



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Paper Authors

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Darrell Gibson

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Patricia Brackin

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Session 3566

Methods of Assessing Student Learning in Capstone Design Projects with Industry: A Five Year Review

M. Patricia Brackin, J. Darrell Gibson Department of Mechanical Engineering Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


The benefits of company sponsored student design projects, both to academia and to industry, have been well established recently in symposia and in publications. However, assessing these benefits in order to improve the students’ experiences can be difficult. This paper discusses techniques of assessment used to improve student learning over the past five years in capstone design courses at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The student teams work together to create solutions to design problems defined by companies. These projects are “owned and managed” by the student teams with company contacts providing appropriate data and information and with faculty serving as advisors only. Mistakes made by the teams therefore are sometimes inevitable but this is considered to be pedagogically an important lesson in design. The students must interact not only with their company but also with their team mates in order to accomplish team goals. The assessment of these important interactions and the resulting changes to the courses are discussed.

Traditionally, design reports alone have been the method by which the students’ performance is judged in typical capstone design courses. However, this limits the ability of the faculty to determine the students’ interaction with their companies and also with their peers. The desire to evaluate teaming skills as well as technical competence led the authors to investigate different approaches for assessing student learning. In this paper, the authors demonstrate the use of company evaluations, status reports, student self-assessments, peer reviews, and oral reports, as well as design reports to quantify student performance both as team members and design engineers. These methods will be discussed and examples presented showing how the results can be used to improve individual student performance on industrial design projects.


Industrial/Academic partnerships are essential for technological development, regardless of the discipline. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the assessment of these partnerships in order to improve both the students’ and the companies’ experiences. Traditionally, design reports alone have been the method by which the students’ performance is judged. Although a wealth of information is contained within these reports, this information does not address the process that

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Gibson, D., & Brackin, P. (2002, June), Methods Of Assessing Student Learning In Capstone Design Projects With Industry: A Five Year Review Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10398

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