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Promoting Problem-solving Proficiency in First-year Engineering: PROCESS Assessment

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 6: Hands-on Projects and Spatial Skills

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1278.1 - 26.1278.10



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Paper Authors


Sarah Jane Grigg Clemson University

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Dr. Sarah Grigg is a lecturer in General Engineering at Clemson University. Her research focuses on process improvement and error mitigation across various contexts including engineering education, healthcare, and transportation. She received Ph.D., M.S. and B.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering and an MBA from Clemson University.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, and their problem solving processes. Other projects in the Benson group include effects of student-centered active learning, self-regulated learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and mathematics classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Promoting Problem Solving Proficiency in First Year Engineering: PROCESS AssessmentThe Problem Solving PROCESS assessment tool was developed in an initiative to promote thedevelopment of problem solving skills. PROCESS is an acronym for 7-stage of problemsolving: Problem definition, Representing the problem, Organizing information, Calculations,Evaluating the solution, Solution communication, Self-Assessment. On the instructional side,PROCESS works as a visual primer, suggesting the use of tasks that have been shown byprevious research to be correlated with higher rates of correct solutions. On the assessment side,PROCESS evaluates the quality and accuracy of the solution and identifies the cause of errorscommitted. The tool has been tested and refined in several engineering courses. This year thelatest version of the assessment tool was implemented in the general engineering course on“Engineering Skills and Disciplines” which is taught at the first year engineering level. In thefirst year engineering course, ~1200 students were instructed on the Problem Solving PROCESSand problem solutions were graded using the PROCESS assessment tool.At the end of the term, students were surveyed about their experience in the course and thePROCESS rubric. A preliminary analysis was conducted on a sample of student responses(n=186, with data from three of eleven faculty members). Eighty-five percent of studentsreported an improvement in their problem solving performance across the semester (33%strongly agree, 52% agree) and 88% reported an improvement in their documentation of problemsolutions (26% strongly agree, 62% agree). Seventy-five percent of students found thePROCESS rubric effective (34% very effective and 41% of students moderately effective).Students were also asked to rate the PROCESS assessment on a variety of characteristics on ascale of agreement from 0-5 with 5 being strongly agree, 4, being agree, 3 being neither agreenor disagree, 2 being disagree 1 being strongly disagree, and 0 not used/cannot rate. Overall,students agreed that the problem solving PROCESS is a useful structure for communicatingsolutions, is easy to understand, and provides valuable feedback. Unfortunately, only 14%strongly agreed that they used the rubric to check their work before submitting it. The differencein ratings for students who strongly agreed that they used the rubric to check their work beforesubmitting it versus those who disagreed will be discussed.

Grigg, S. J., & Benson, L. (2015, June), Promoting Problem-solving Proficiency in First-year Engineering: PROCESS Assessment Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24615

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