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If engineering educators are to incorporate assessment of student learning outcomes into their curricula, they need assessments that are reliable, valid and feasible within the time constraints of coursework. We are engaged in an NSF supported project to develop such measures for design skill. This paper describes our exploration of the use of student-generated concept maps to assess students' understanding of how various aspects of the design process go together. Students in three senior-level engineering courses constructed concept maps of the design process. The resulting maps could be reliably sorted into patterns that presumably represent distinctly different ways of understanding the process. In addition, subpatterns of the concept maps were used to assess specific units of knowledge (e.g., the relation between feasibility, on the one hand, and requirements and preliminary design, on the other). These two components comprise an easily created report that provides detailed and useful pointers toward course and curricular improvement.
Frontiers in Education, 2004. FIE 2004. 34th Annual
Date of Conference: 20-23 Oct. 2004