Asee peer logo

The Challenge Of Consistent Grading In Real World, Open Ended Design With Multiple And Multi Disciplinary Instruction

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Assessment and Evaluation in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1209.1 - 15.1209.33



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Sarah Lockwood University of Calgary

author page

Daryl Caswell University of Calgary

author page

Marjan Eggermont University of Calgary

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



The S_______ School of Engineering at the University of C____ admits ~730 first year students each fall; these students are required to take a ‘Common Core’ program for their first year before choosing their field of engineering. As part of the Common Core year, all students take two half courses in Design and Communication. These two courses (ENGG 251 and ENGG 253) are interdisciplinary courses: the teaching team consists of engineers from all disciplines represented at the university (mechanical, electrical, etc); a fine arts instructor, specializing in drawing and sketching; and a technical writing instructor, specializing in written and oral communication. The 251/253 courses are project-based; students work in small groups on real world problems, are required to sketch and document their work and to write formal reports on their projects.

While the 251/253 courses present a number of challenges to the instructional team, including the logistics of managing ~730 students and 30 Teaching Assistants, planning five new and unique projects for each academic year and integrating community groups into real-world scenarios, the largest challenge facing the team is that of consistency of assignment design and evaluation.

This paper will describe a methodology for maintaining instructional and grading consistency across the many layers of student/tutorial assistant/instructor interaction.

Due to the scope of the course, each of the five projects is developed by one or more instructors, with each of the 9 instructors contributing to at least one project. As the instructors come from a variety of backgrounds, consistency has been problematic – what one instructor considers complete assignment information, another considers either woefully inadequate or more detailed than necessary. In addition, as the course is project-based, there are no ‘right’ answers, only ones that are workable and ones that are not. To further complicate matters, the course emphasizes the design process, so that a group that had excellent process but did not fully succeed at the challenge can still receive an above average grade.

Over the last two years, the instructor team has embarked on a new path to ensure consistent and effective assignment design and evaluation. This path, which takes advantage of the team’s interdisciplinary strengths, has resulted in a 150% increase in student satisfaction with the course, based on the student rating questionnaires, and has reduces student appeals for remarking by 50%.

Lockwood, S., & Caswell, D., & Eggermont, M. (2010, June), The Challenge Of Consistent Grading In Real World, Open Ended Design With Multiple And Multi Disciplinary Instruction Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16642

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: © 2010 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