Rubric Development for Assessment of Undergraduate Research: Evaluating Multidisciplinary Team Projects


  • James A. Newell Rowan University
  • Heidi L. Newell Rowan University
  • Kevin D. Dahm Rowan University


At Rowan University, all engineering students participate in clinic courses involving multidisciplinary student teams working on semester-long or year-long research projects led by an engineering professor. Trying to assess student learning and performance in
project-based team settings has proven difficult. Faced with the complexity of trying to assess the attainment of learning outcomes for
each individual on a team based on an unclear blend of technical merit, communication, project planning, data analysis, and teaming behaviors, both faculty members and students fall short. It is unreasonable to expect students to achieve specific learning objectives from a series of courses when the faculty members themselves are unclear about what the learning objectives are and how to measure them.
In an effort to address the assessment of team performance in project-based research experiences, the ChE faculty developed, as a
pilot study, four primary areas of importance for assessment. Once these areas were selected, specific indicators were developed for each so that the students would have a set of clearly defined goals and behaviors that reflect the desired learning outcomes. Faculty assessment of these rubrics indicate that they are very effective in demystifying the evaluation process and serve to better connect the grade in the course to the stated learning objectives.

Author Biographies

James A. Newell, Rowan University

James Newell is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University He currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Chemical Engineering Division of ASEE and has won both ASEE's Ray Fahien Award for his contributions to engineering education and a Dow Outstanding New Faculty Award. His research interests include high-performance polymers, outcomes assessment, and integrating communication skills through the curriculum.

Heidi L. Newell, Rowan University

Heidi Newell is currently the assessment coordinator for the College of Engineering at Rowan University. She previously served as the assessment consultant for the University of North Dakota. She holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from the University of North Dakota, an MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Clemson University, and a BA in Sociology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Kevin D. Dahm, Rowan University

Kevin Dahm is Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University He received his BS from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1992 and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998. His primary technical area is in chemical kinetics and mechanisms. His current primary teaching interest is integrating process simulation throughout the chemical engineering curriculum, and he received the 2003 Joseph J. Martin Award for work in that area.