Asee peer logo

Partnering to Develop Educational Software Applications: A Four-year Retrospective Study

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

The Best of Computers in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


David Reeping Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

visit author page

David Reeping is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. He received his B.S. in Engineering Education with a Mathematics minor from Ohio Northern University. He was a Choose Ohio First scholar inducted during the 2012-2013 school year as a promising teacher candidate in STEM. David was the recipient of the Remsburg Creativity Award for 2013 and the DeBow Freed Award for outstanding leadership as an undergraduate student (sophomore) in 2014. He is also a member of the mathematics, education, and engineering honor societies: Kappa Mu Epsilon, Kappa Delta Pi, and Tau Beta Pi respectively. He has extensive experience in curriculum development in K-12 and creates material for the Technology Student Association's annual TEAMS competition. David has co-authored two texts related to engineering, Principles of Applied Engineering for Pearson-Prentice Hall and Introductory Engineering Mathematics for Momentum Press.

His research interests include: model/method transferability, threshold concepts to inform curriculum development, information asymmetry in higher education processes (e.g., course articulation), and issues in first year engineering.

visit author page


John K. Estell Ohio Northern University

visit author page

Dr. John K Estell is Professor of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Ohio Northern University, providing instruction primarily in the areas of introductory computer programming and first-year engineering. He has been on the faculty of the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department since 2001, and served as department chair from 2001-2010. He received a B.S.C.S.E. degree from The University of Toledo and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Estell is a Fellow of ASEE, a Senior Member of IEEE, and a member of ACM, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, Phi Kappa Phi, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon.

Dr. Estell is active in the assessment community with his work in streamlining and standardizing the outcomes assessment process, and has been an invited presenter at the ABET Symposium. He is also active within the engineering education community, having served ASEE as an officer in the Computers in Education and First-Year Programs Divisions; he and his co-authors have received multiple Best Paper awards at the ASEE Annual Conference. His current research includes examining the nature of constraints in engineering design and providing service learning opportunities for first-year programming students through various K-12 educational activities. Dr. Estell is a Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee for the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, and also serves as a program evaluator for the Engineering Accreditation Commission. He is also a founding member and serves as Vice President of The Pledge of the Computing Professional, an organization dedicated to the promotion of ethics in the computing professions through a standardized rite-of-passage ceremony.

visit author page

Download Paper |


In the spirit of developing a more holistic engineering curriculum, an expected element of the pedagogy would involve students collaborating with one another to achieve a common, yet non-trivial, goal. The first year of engineering is certainly not devoid of team-based projects, but those experiences rarely offer a compelling parallel to the work of practicing engineers, particularly with respect to interacting with clients and making a difference in lives of others. As an attempt to better characterize engineering work and service in the first year, a project was introduced in 2014 to engage teams of first-year programming students (primarily consisting of computer engineering and computer science majors) at a small private Midwestern university to develop software applications for use in various educational outreach efforts as a culminating “cornerstone” project in their introductory programming sequence. These teams were joined by upper-level education majors, whose roles evolved over the years from serving as a client liaison to part of an interdisciplinary team of senior and junior partners.

The structure of the project was intentionally designed utilizing Kolb’s Experiential Learning cycle to cultivate a culture of formative assessment with multiple touch-points throughout the project and, in later offerings, throughout the semester. A key tool was the adoption of the single point rubric instrument as a feedback mechanism. A single point rubric is like an analytic rubric, save that only one column – that of “Proficiency” – contains a performance descriptor for a criterion. This column is flanked by “Mastery” and “Developing” columns where blank spaces are provided for the assessor to write comments explaining why the student’s work was above or below the expected level of performance. These rubrics were later used to help assess team progress through the duration of the project, allowing for corrective actions (in the form of targeted lecture material or supplemental handouts) to be taken if necessary. For example, opportunity for formative feedback was a science-fair-style critical design review with members of the university community including faculty from both education and engineering serving as judges. In addition, since the project was pitched to the students as an outreach effort, the Community Services Attitudes Scale survey administered both before and after the project to examine changes in the programming students’ attitude toward community service. Open-ended responses to end-of-course surveys were also collected for feedback to improve the project in future offerings.

This paper describes the dynamics of the collaboration between the first-year computing and upper-level education majors as the models of interaction changed over the first four years that the project has been offered. In addition, the paper will describe the learned from developing the project and how it was assessed, including references to subsequent research spin-offs. Design principles for transferability to other programs wishing to implement a similar project structure are provided as well.

Reeping, D., & Estell, J. K. (2018, June), Partnering to Develop Educational Software Applications: A Four-year Retrospective Study Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30859

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: © 2018 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