Across the disciplines: our gained knowledge in assessing a first-year integrated experience


integrated experiences, design thinking, writing assessment, adaptive comparative judgment, general education


This study discusses a writing assessment for State University’s first year integrated experience of Technology 120: Design Thinking in Technology and English 106: First-Year Writing and the implications it provides for curriculum design. The study used Adaptive Comparative Judgment to determine whether integrated research essays that utilized design thinking were more rhetorically effective (i.e., better attuned to addressing a purpose, audience, and context) than non-integrated English composition research essays. Results showed the non-integrated research essays had a statistically significant better rating than the integrated courses; this finding was counterintuitive to our expectations, therefore we utilized NVivo to conduct a word frequency analysis on judges’ holistic comments to determine strengths and weaknesses of the essays. The word frequency analysis demonstrated writing concepts were much stronger and more effective in a standard composition course. These findings led to the development of three literature-based curriculum and pedagogical changes to ensure that integrated students achieve general education writing outcomes in concert with design thinking principles—something our results showed as lacking significantly in these courses.

Original Publication Citation

Sherman, D., Mentzer, N., Bartholomew, S. R., Chesley, A., Baniya, S., & Laux, D. (2021). Across the Disciplines: Our Gained Knowledge in Assessing a First-Year Integrated Experience. International Journal of Technology and Design Education.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


International Journal of Technology and Design Education




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor