F9-C&D1-5 - Tracking Capstone Project Quality in an Engineering Curriculum Embedded with Design

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Steven Higbee1 , Sharon Miller1
1 Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

This Work in Progress Innovative Practice paper describes efforts to track student design gains in an undergraduate biomedical engineering (BME) curriculum in order to measure the effect of newly integrated design projects on capstone success. Engineering curricula often culminate in team-based capstone experiences in which students face complex design problems. Student capstone teams face significant challenges during design, as solving difficult engineering problems can require a multitude of skills, access to diverse resources, and teaming ability. Assessing the quality of student design work is also non-trivial, as few shared frameworks or assessment tools exist for engineering design.

Capstone experiences compel students to connect and apply undergraduate curricular learning in a final design experience, and design-rich curricula should better prepare students for success in capstone courses. To this end, we recently embedded team-based engineering design projects in our curriculum at the 200- and 300-levels. Consequently, we have the opportunity to track capstone design projects for students with varying amounts of curricular design experience. We developed a BME Capstone Design Rubric, adapted from several sources, and used it to score design reports submitted by student teams. Thus far, we have used the rubric to assess student design growth at the 200- and 300-levels and to collect baseline data for capstone design reports.

Our preliminary results demonstrate that students produce reports of increasing quality as they complete additional embedded design projects. Due to the growth we see in project reports from the 200- to 400-level and qualitative data that support the benefit of embedded design experiences to capstone success, we expect to be able to measure significant differences between capstone design reports produced by students with varying levels of curricular design experience. This Work in Progress begins to address the research question: Does embedding design projects throughout an undergraduate engineering curriculum affect capstone project quality?