Asee peer logo

Using Rubrics To Facilitate Students' Development Of Problem Solving Skills

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1256.1 - 8.1256.22



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Surya Mallapragada

author page

Maureen Griffin

author page

Mary Huba

author page

Jacqueline Shanks

author page

Kevin Saunders

author page

Charles Glatz

Download Paper |

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

Session 2793

Using Rubrics to Facilitate Students’ Development of Problem Solving Skills

Kevin P. Saunders1, Charles E. Glatz2, Mary E. Huba1, Maureen H. Griffin 3, Surya K. Mallapragada2, and Jacqueline V. Shanks2 1 Iowa State University Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies/ 2Iowa State University Department of Chemical Engineering/ 3 Des Moines East High School


We developed a series of problem-based laboratories in chemical engineering designed to engage students as active participants in their own learning. The goals of the problem-based learning (PBL) format include helping students develop problem-solving skills, improving students’ own understanding of how they learn, developing a life-long learning perspective, and acquiring the ability to work on interdisciplinary teams. To assist students and faculty in assessing these learning objectives, we developed rubrics to assess teamwork, written and oral reports, and the problem-solving process. In this paper we describe the implementation of PBL in engineering curricula and examine the use of rubrics to support the development of students’ problem-solving skills.


In the chemical industry of the future, chemical engineers will be increasingly expected to use their process and design skills in the manufacture of bio-based industrial products. Although many chemical engineering curricula today include a senior-level biochemical engineering course, additional course materials that incorporate biotechnology principles will be needed in the future.

The central element of our undertaking was to involve students in solving laboratory- based problems related to the conversion of biorenewables. Using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach, we grouped students in multidisciplinary teams, assigned them a problem from industry, and guided them through the steps of a problem-solving process, i.e., recognize the relevant knowledge they already possess, identify what must be learned, acquire that knowledge and work towards a solution.

PBL originated in the 1960s and 1970s when medical educators tried to find a better means of preparing physicians for medical practice [1]. They decided to educate students by having them solve typical problems encountered in professional practice, an approach that provides opportunities for students to practice life-long learning and team skills. PBL is now widely practiced in medical schools and has been applied to a lesser degree in other disciplines.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Mallapragada, S., & Griffin, M., & Huba, M., & Shanks, J., & Saunders, K., & Glatz, C. (2003, June), Using Rubrics To Facilitate Students' Development Of Problem Solving Skills Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11700

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: © 2003 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