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The Development of a Framework for Investigating the Effectiveness of Capstone Course Curricular Changes

[+] Author Affiliations
Ben Sherrett, John Parmigiani

Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Paper No. DETC2011-48724, pp. 615-623; 9 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 5th International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems; 8th International Conference on Design and Design Education; 21st Reliability, Stress Analysis, and Failure Prevention Conference
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5484-6
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Capstone courses are an integral part of the educational experience in undergraduate engineering programs. However, such courses tend to be challenging in nature for course instructors as many of the features of the capstone course contrast starkly with typical courses in the engineering curriculum. As in any field, communication of effective strategies is crucial as the capstone course community seeks to better their practices. With this goal in mind, the question arises: How does one instructor convince her or his colleagues that a teaching practice implemented at the home university is (i) truly effective, and (ii) can be transferred to other universities with similar results? While effectiveness may be measured in other more traditional courses by simply looking at assignment and test grades, the complexity associated with the capstone course adds ambiguity and complex interrelations that require a more thoughtful and detailed inquiry. This work explains such a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of capstone course changes implemented over the past seven years at Oregon State University. The evaluation framework relies on results from faculty, sponsor, and student surveys as well as sponsor participation data, student work products, course evaluations, and student grades over the period of the past seven years. This work outlines the framework and discusses future plans of implementation of the research project.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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