Tools for assessing student learning in mechanical design courses

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Holland, Dónal (1); Walsh, Conor J. (2); Bennett, Gareth J. (1)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; 2: Harvard University, USA
Section: Best Practice in Design Education
Page(s): 064-069
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


Assessing student learning and evaluating the effects of innovation in teaching remain a challenge for design educators and researchers. This paper describes the development of a set of assessment tools for use in evaluating pedagogical improvements in project-based mechanical design courses. An ethnographic study was undertaken to identify the design concepts and skills that students struggle to learn or apply. Four categories of concepts were identified as difficult for students: problem definition, evaluation of concepts, communication and comprehension, and prototyping strategies. In order to support interventions to improve students’ learning in these areas, an assessment tool was designed and pilot tested with expert and novice participants. The results from this test will be used to develop an inventory of questions that can be used by educators and researchers to monitor student learning in mechanical design courses, and evaluate the efficacy of new teaching methods and tools.

Keywords: Mechanical design, assessment


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