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Peer Assessment of Design Reports in a First-Year Introduction to Engineering Course

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

FPD 4: Peers and Perceptions

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.976.1 - 24.976.9



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Paper Authors


Angela Thompson P.E. University of Louisville

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Angela Thompson, Ph.D., P.E., is an assistant professor in the department of engineering fundamentals at the University of Louisville's J.B. Speed School of Engineering. She received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Louisville in 2011 and currently teaches Introduction to Engineering and engineering analysis courses. Her research interests include the biomechanics of pediatric injury and undergraduate engineering education.

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Peer Assessment of Design Reports in a First-Year Introduction to Engineering Course All freshmen engineering students at University X are required to take an Introduction toEngineering course. Among the many topics covered in this course are introductions to thedifferent engineering disciplines, instruction in critical thinking, team building andcommunication, and design. This is a large enrollment course, with 620 students in 17 sections,taught by just two faculty and nine teaching assistants, which presents obvious challenges toproviding formative feedback to students on an individual basis. Student’s design reports areone area where, in the past, there has been clear need for better formative feedback. In previoussemesters, though portions of the design assignment were completed in teams, students eachsubmitted individual reports. There was little opportunity for formative assessment with thisapproach and it was clear from the individual reports that there was a need for some formativefeedback prior to the final version of the design report. Peer assessment has been shown to be an effective approach to enhance student learning.Gains have been reported in both student achievement and students attitudes with effects as goodor better than instructor assessment alone [1]. To address previous limitations in achieving thecourse objectives with respect to the design reports, this year, instructors utilized peer assessmentin a collaborative learning exercise with the goal of providing students additional feedback ontheir writing and enhanced engagement with the material. An added goal of the assignment wasto improve students’ critical thinking skills. As a part of the University’s Quality EnhancementPlan, several course meetings are devoted to explicit instruction in the Paul-Elder Framework forcritical thinking [2]. To achieve familiarity with the framework, students need to explicitly andrepeatedly use the framework over the course of the semester. Thus, the peer assessmentassignment was intended to reinforce the critical thinking framework and provide an opportunityfor students develop their teamwork and communication skills. Students in the Introduction to Engineering course completed a design assignment andwere each asked to write a short design report detailing their solution. All students completedthe same design assignment, though their solutions may have varied slightly. Using the Paul-Elder framework as a guide, students were provided a rubric and instructed to evaluate their ownreport first, and then in teams of 4-5, students evaluated three of their peers’ reports. Thestudents then worked in these teams to select the best design and develop one improved groupreport. By evaluating their own writing and that of their peers, it is intended that studentsimproved their critical thinking skills by thinking more deeply about the quality of their writing.Additionally, through development of the team report, students should have gained skills andpractice in team building and communication. Students were surveyed to assess perceptions of learning and attitudes about theassignment. Survey results and analysis along with instructor observations about studentlearning gains will be provided in the paper to assess the efficacy of the assignment and identifydirections for future work.References 1. Topping, Keith. Peer Assessment Between Students in Colleges and Universities. Review of Educational Research. Vol 68(3): 249-276. 1998. 2. Lewis, James, Hieb, Jeffrey, and David Wheatley. Introducing Critical Thinking to Freshman Engineering Students. Proceedings of the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference. 2010.

Thompson, A. (2014, June), Peer Assessment of Design Reports in a First-Year Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22909

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