VALUE Research Hub

Implementing Rubrics as Part of an Assessment Plan


Reid, K. J., & Cooney, E. M. (2008). Implementing Rubrics as Part of an Assessment Plan. International Journal of Engineering Education, 24(5), 893–900.


Student assessment of technical skills in engineering and engineering technology is relatively straightforward. Problems typically have right or wrong answers, and assessing students' ability to effectively solve problems, design systems and evaluate designs can be quantitatively measured. Assessing non-technical skills (sometimes called `soft skills') such as the ability to function in teams, communicate effectively or understand ethical responsibilities [1] can be a challenge for faculty in engineering or engineering technology as these more qualitative characteristics don't necessarily involve right and wrong answers. These characteristics have traditionally been measured by engineering technology faculty the same way they are evaluated in the workplace: `I know it when I see it'. While this method may lead to a letter grade (`That presentation was pretty goodÐ I'll give it a B'), this is not truly assessing the student, the presentation or the degree program. Meaningful assessment of the student or of the presentation should include constructive feedback, and assessment of the degree program should include qualitative measurement of the necessary characteristics of a good presentation. Good assessment practices also recommend that data be `triangulated', or measured in more than one way. The assessment plan for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology programs at IUPUI include the development and use of rubrics for assessment of student performance and to supply meaningful and consistent feedback to students.