June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.1252.1 - 24.1252.15
The Use Of Peer Evaluations In A Non-Traditional First Year System Design ClassIn the fall of 2010 a small imaging systems engineering department at a large privateuniversity in the northeast completely abandoned its traditional lecture based pedagogyfor incoming freshmen and in its place implemented a radically different project basedclass for first year students. Similar to many existing senior level capstone experiences,this new approach challenged first year students to work together as a single integratedmultidisciplinary team for a full academic year to design, develop, build, and test aunique, fully functional imaging system from scratch. Now in its fourth year, allindications are that this pedagogy has been transformational, not only for the freshmenwho have taken the class, but for the department as a whole. It has changed long heldperceptions about the abilities of first year college students, and has led to a newunderstanding of the role of faculty in technical undergraduate degree programs.One of the central ways in which this pedagogy differs from a traditional approach is inits desired student outcomes. Whereas the outcomes of the old pedagogy were primarilyknowledge oriented, in the new class the outcomes are focused on the degree to whichstudents begin to adopt the behaviors and practices of professional engineers.Consequently conventional assessment tools such as quizzes, tests, and final exams are ofno value. Instead, instructors in the new class must rely on other techniques to assessstudent growth and development. One of these is the use of formal peer evaluations.Although these peer evaluations were treated as mandatory assignments due at the end ofeach academic term, their scope and format were determined by the students themselves.The evaluations were submitted to the instructor, who sanitized them to preserve theanonymity of the evaluators and then compiled and distributed them to each recipient. Inthis way every student received feedback three times over the course of the year longproject on how at least a portion of their classmates perceived their performance.In this paper we examine the peer evaluations submitted by the first three cohorts toexperience the new pedagogy in an effort to gain some insight into relationships betweenthe members of the design teams. Our analysis focuses on three primary aspects of thepeer evaluation system. First, we look at how the scope and format of the evaluationsevolved over time as a way of understanding which characteristics the students felt weremost essential in their fellow team members. Next we examine the nature and quality ofthe feedback as a way to assess the perceived value of the peer evaluations. And lastly wedraw from the records of the course instructor to see the degree to which the peerevaluations were consistent with the comments the students were making about theirteam members in one-on-one advising sessions. Together these analyses can inform theuse of peer evaluations as an assessment tool in engineering classes at other institutions.
Pow, J., & Helguera, M., & Pieri, E., & Wolters, S., & Augspurger, M. G., & Neuberger, B. A., & Scholl, V., & Bondi, E. (2014, June), The Use Of Peer Evaluations In A Nontraditional First-Year System Design Class Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23185
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