Asee peer logo

Self-Reflection Assignments for Evaluating Non-Technical Skills and Setting Goals for Professional Development

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Professional Skills Development

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ashlee Nicole Ford Versypt Oklahoma State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Ashlee N. Ford Versypt is an assistant professor in the School of Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in ChE at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her B.S. at the University of Oklahoma. She also conducted postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on developing computational models for systems biomedicine & pharmaceutics and using computing and reflection in the classroom.

visit author page

Download Paper |


“Self-reflection assignments” have been used in two offerings of an undergraduate chemical kinetics course at a large, public state university. The self-reflection assignments involve brief essays and goal setting related to professional, non-technical skills. The assignments were adapted from a document called the Self-Evaluation Rubric for guided reflection assignments. The outcomes of the assignments have not been previously measured and reported in an engineering course. The Self-Evaluation Rubric contains a list of non-technical skills important for scientists and engineers, such as persistence, organization, self-compassion, and reflection. In the course, written assignments were used to foster development of these skills. Five times during the semester, students were given an essay prompt to identify one or more skills to work on in the following two-week period (first essay) or one-month period (subsequent essays except the last). Students were asked to assess their current proficiency level (beginning, developing, or succeeding) in the skill according to the Self-Evaluation Rubric, describe their goals related to the skill and their plan for improvement, and share progress in the skill(s) if any had been made since the previous essay. This process required the students to identify the change they want to make, come up with a plan to implement that change, and frequently assess how their changes worked. The essays were submitted electronically as small percentage homework assignments graded by completion. The instructor provided feedback through the classroom management system. Besides the intended goal of professional skill development, the assignments also gave the students practice with written communication and forged connections between the students and the faculty instructor for the course. A classroom research study was conducted to assess the impact of the assignments using pre- and post-assignment surveys of student perceptions of their non-technical skill levels and their opinions on the impact of the assignments on any changes in their skill levels. The hypothesis is that the self-reflection assignments positively impact student progression toward higher levels of non-technical skills. Further, we hypothesize that skills that students focus on actively and skills that students are made aware of through the exercises and do not actively reflect on in course assignments improve during the semester with some level of attribution to the self-reflection assignments. We quantified the number of students that rank themselves as beginning, developing, or succeeding for each skill on the rubric before and after the use of self-reflection assignments in the course. Our surveys also included open-ended questions about potential causes for skill level changes, if any, about skills they focused on throughout the term for the self-reflection assignments, and about their opinions of the self-reflection assignments in general. Pre- and post-surveys have been matched using unique, non-identifiable keys generated by users. Student participation in the surveys was optional. Student self-reflection assignment submissions were not utilized directly in the study. The data will be provided in aggregate form. The research provides insight into the efficacy of the self-reflection assignments in improving non-technical skills in the context of an upper division engineering course.

Ford Versypt, A. N. (2017, June), Self-Reflection Assignments for Evaluating Non-Technical Skills and Setting Goals for Professional Development Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28819

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: © 2017 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