Scenario assignments as assessment tools for undergraduate engineering education

Flora McMartin, Ann McKenna, Ken Youssefi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


A challenge many faculty face is finding effective qualitative tools to assess students' skills and knowledge of engineering practices. This paper describes how one such tool, the scenario assignment, was used in an upper division Mechanical Engineering course at the University of California at Berkeley. The scenario assignment is a qualitative performance assessment tool designed to assess students' knowledge of engineering practices, teamwork, and problem solving. An analytic rubric was developed to assess students' knowledge with respect to the learning outcomes associated with the scenario tool. Students were given a scenario that describes a `day in the life' problem faced by engineers. They were then asked to describe a process they would use to solve the problem. Careful testing of the rubric and training of the scorers revealed that the scores reliably differentiated among student abilities. Two sample student responses to the battery scenario are presented and discussed. Initial findings suggest that use of the scenarios can help faculty to quickly identify students' strengths and weaknesses and adapt their course to address the areas where students need attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Scenario assignments as assessment tools for undergraduate engineering education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this