General Engineering Introduction/ASEE Paper/External Assessment
The External Assessment Problem
Engineers have supported educational projects through advice, materials, money and review. Project documentation review is all that is needed for external assessment. Once reviews have been accumulated, then some kind of metric can be created. Any other system is going to distort engineering. Engineers want to evaluate projects rather than evaluate individual student portfolios, teachers, courses, or engineering programs.
Every project, every problem an engineer encounters is unique whether in school or on the job. Why are all star forts are unique? Why does every McDonald's built require an engineer? Projects need to be unique. Let K-12 and tech programs argue the merits of hot dog launching projects.
The difference between Edison and Tesla was documentation. The audience of documentation is other engineers. Engineers read documentation with one question in mind, “Could I replicate this?”
Assess by editing wikiversity pages. Change pages if the assessor can clarify, don't penalize. Celebrate communication that leads to clarity, not clarity itself. Don't try to create an assessment rubric. Read and react like an engineer. Read other assessments. Let them inform the current. Wikiversity success is more about process than polishing stagnant information. Wikia has lowered the barrier to document storage, document archiving and document change control … for the planet.
A critical mass of non-engineers is already in wikia. Freshman students named their team “ManBearPig.” A wikiversity editor deleted the team's project page within a day. Students solved the problem with a new name. No track record means no respect, no job. Wikia is already about respect.
Gain Respect Yourself
Ultimately reviewers of engineering projects will evolve an organization with a promotion process through levels of responsibility and influence. Start as a student. Continue as a working engineer. Help guide engineering assessment throughout the planet.