Overview and comparison of assessment tools for integrative thinking Conference Paper uri icon


  • American Society for Engineering Education, 2017. Integrative thinking is an essential competency for graduating engineers. Engineering graduates, who are prepared to address significant engineering challenges, e.g., Engineering Grand Challenges, can effectively integrate fragments from multiple disciplines to solve problems. To help students develop integrative thinking skills, engineering programs need to articulate how they will observe, evaluate, and support student development. Universities have recognized the need for students to engage in interdisciplinary projects and develop skills needed to support industry needs. To address that need, they have offered programs ranging from semester-long courses to weekend challenges designed to engage students in multidisciplinary team projects. However, effectiveness of instructional programs intended to support student development with respect to integrative thinking must be evaluated through assessment. While integrative thinking is much discussed in engineering education, evaluation approaches are few and not widely incorporated into engineering curriculum. The authors have identified four existing approaches for evaluating integrative thinking: (A) Interdisciplinary Writing Assessment Profiles with the following elements: (i) drawing on disciplinary sources, (ii) critical argumentation, (iii) multidisciplinary perspectives, and (iv) interdisciplinary integration; (B) Targeted Assessment Framework with the following elements: (i) purposefulness, (ii) disciplinary grounding, (iii) integration, and (iv) critical awareness; (C) Transdisciplinary Research Quality Framework rubric with the following elements: (i) relevance, (ii) credibility, (iii) legitimacy, (iv) and effectiveness; and (D) Integrative Learning VALUE Rubric with the following elements: (i) connections to experience, (ii) connections to discipline, (iii) transfer, (iv) integrated communication, and (v) reflection and self-assessment. Following descriptions of the four approaches, the authors will offer criteria to compare assessment instruments for integrative thinking to assist other researchers in identifying most appropriate tools for assessing such skills in their curricula or programs.

published proceedings

  • ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

author list (cited authors)

  • Ortega, P. E., Lagoudas, M. Z., & Froyd, J. E.

complete list of authors

  • Ortega, PE||Lagoudas, MZ||Froyd, JE

publication date

  • January 2017