Assessing Communications and Teamwork Using Peer and Project Sponsor Feedback in a Capstone Course
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American Society for Engineering Education, 2017. Capstone design courses are used to bring together various aspects of a student's curriculum into a culminating project; they also provide an opportunity to practice and assess professional skills using an authentic design project. While peer feedback and sponsor feedback are often used to assess learning outcomes and even provide input into student grades, these metrics can also serve to assess course interventions and can be correlated with each other. This work examines the use of student feedback regarding their teammates, project sponsor feedback, and uses these for the assessment of an online project management tool. This is done in a two-semester capstone course in a four-year engineering technology program. One of the recurring issues in the capstone course examined in this work was the lack of communication with project sponsors; the sponsors complained that they did not have access to project information or insight into project progress. To alleviate this issue, an online project management tool was implemented in the fall of 2015. This tool allowed students to easily share project documents and information with sponsors. Project sponsor feedback from semesters of capstone projects were collected prior to the implementation of the online tool; these are compared to feedback from the semesters since the tool has been implemented. Also used to assess the project teams was a peer review rubric which asked how often teammates engages in particular traits: helping, listening, participating, persuading, questioning, respecting, and sharing. Project sponsors, while generally satisfied with their projects, are shown not to be satisfied with the frequency of the updates they receive from their project teams. Results show the update frequency variable is significantly correlated with almost all other project satisfaction variables; more frequent updates leading to higher satisfaction. The project team peer review variables are generally positively correlated with overall project satisfaction. In the cases of participating and persuading, these correlations are significant. The standard deviation of the project team peer reviews are negatively correlated with overall project sponsor satisfaction. The implementation of the online project management tool is not shown to have a significant effect on project sponsor satisfaction and in some cases leads to poorer average ratings. However, the feedback related to project documentation is shown to improve slightly after the implementation of the online tool. Insights into the implementation of the various aspects of the work and future research questions are detailed.