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Work in Progress: Implementation of Peer Review to Enhance Written and Visual Communication Learning in Bioengineering Capstone Reports

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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

Biomedical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1746.1 - 26.1746.5



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Paper Authors


Stephanie Pulford Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching (CELT) Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Stephanie Pulford is an instructional consultant within University of Washington’s Center for Engineering Teaching & Learning, where she coordinates the Engineering Writing & Communication Development Program. Dr. Pulford’s professional background in engineering includes a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics, and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering as well as industry experience as an aircraft engineer. Her research and professional interests include faculty development, innovations in engineering communication education, engineering student learning motivation, and narrative structure in technical communication.

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Alyssa Catherine Taylor University of Washington

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Alyssa C. Taylor is a lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington. She received a B.S. in biological systems engineering at the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia. Taylor’s teaching activities are focused on developing and teaching core introductory courses and technical labs for bioengineering undergraduates, as well as coordinating the capstone design sequence for the BIOE Department at the University of Washington. Taylor currently pursues educational research and continuous improvement activities, with the ultimate goal of optimizing bioengineering curriculum design and student learning outcomes.

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Work in Progress: Implementation of Peer Review to Enhance Written and Visual Communication Learning in Bioengineering Capstone ReportsIn addition to technical skill development, engineering undergraduate curricula must also fosterthe development of effective communication skills. The capstone report often plays aninstrumental role in this development, since it comprises both the final assessment of studentcommunication performance and also students’ most significant opportunity for active learningof in-discipline communication skills. Constructive formative feedback is an imperativecomponent of capstone communication learning. Peer review has been proposed as an idealmeans to provide students with this much-needed feedback, and it also has the potential toincrease students’ interpersonal communication skills and metacognition as well, provided thatthe review activity is structured to encourage constructive contributions and reflection.Thus, the goal of this work-in-progress project is to implement a peer review strategy, integratedthroughout the yearlong capstone experience, so that students can obtain significant, formativefeedback and build transferable communication skills and insights.The students in our Bioengineering capstone will complete a four-session workshop series ofscaffolded communication critique, small-group formative peer review, and class reflection.Through the series, they will be guided to collaborate as a class to generate their own rubric forsections of the capstone, as well as guidelines for constructive, effective and kind peer feedback.The students will then use these codes to provide constructive feedback to one another in smallgroups. The groups will reconvene to share each other’s successful techniques to the class, andthe class will be prompted to reflect on these successes and use them to generate ideas toimprove their own work.The novelty of our specific approach review lies in the combination of three qualities:  The degree of student contribution to setting standards both for effective writing and effective critique. This gives students ownership and a stake in these standards, as well as providing a scaffolding for critical thought about quality in formal (written) and casual (spoken interpersonal) professional communication.  The degree of scaffolding undergirding the students’ critique activity. A frequent criticism of peer review activities are that student reviewers, left to their own devices, are unconstructive, discouraging, and perhaps even misleading. We provide students with a structure that helps them stay focused and give helpful critiques.  The degree of reflection required of students, toward learning, retaining and transferring their in-workshop learning. Our activity asks students to identify, share, and apply lessons learned from others’ projects, particularly successes.By engaging students in this way, we enrich their learning experience not only with informationthey can use toward capstone report performance, but communication, self-regulation, andreflection skills that can be transferred toward future professional challenges.

Pulford, S., & Taylor, A. C. (2015, June), Work in Progress: Implementation of Peer Review to Enhance Written and Visual Communication Learning in Bioengineering Capstone Reports Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25082

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