Professional Practice Skills

PPS 2: Goals and Assessment

 (Adapted from MPS-3, Don Woods 1998)


Pre-class assignment

  1. Read sections What isIt?, New Concepts, Why Do It?, How to  Do It, and Learning Objectives
  2. Establish your Baseline on this skill on the Goals and Assessment Feedback Form
  3. Be able to define the concept of goals when asked in class.


What is It?

Goals are desired results.  Goals should be unambiguous and stated in terms of measurable criteria.  Assessment is the comparison of the measured result to the specified criteria. 

New Concepts

Goal, Assessment, Sub goals, Objectives


Why Do It?

A good engineering drawing is the simplest example of an unambiguously defined goal with clearly measurable criteria.  If the vendor gives you a part that meets the print specification, they have achieved the goal.  Inspection of the part, which usually involves measurement of dimensions and material characteristics, constitutes the assessment.  Without clear criteria, clear assessment is impossible.


Unfortunately, most goals given to the engineer are stated much more ambiguously (“We want this part to be cheaper”), and the engineer must define the goal and clarify the criteria.  


You may also have the responsibility of evaluating employee performance (assessment) in your role as project manager.  This is a difficult task for everyone, but much easier with clearly defined goals and measurable criteria.


How to Do It

Often you will start with a goal that is a general statement of what you want.  Rose-Hulman’s goal of “Being the best undergraduate school of science, math, and engineering” is like that.  It is a noble and ambitious goal but needs specific unambiguous, measurable sub goals (some use the term objectives). 


Our objectives or sub goals should be specific and measurable.  One such sub goal or objective could be to “Be named No. 1 in the US News and World Report Survey on Colleges”.  Another could be to have the highest average entering freshmen SAT score in the U.S.  You may wish to have the highest ratio of graduating Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) score to entering SAT score as a measure of student improvement.  All of these sub goals are clear and measurable.  Note that just because a goal is clear and measurable does not make it a good or appropriate goal.


In developing design goals, we often use quantitative goals.  Suppose we are asked to redesign an icemaker to “be cheaper”.  “Cheaper” could be stated as costing no more than $20..  “Cheaper” could be also quantified by saying “The new design should cost at least 15% less than the old design.


Focus on results rather than actions.  If you were trying to get thinner, you may say that you goal is to eat less and exercise more.  Those actions may indeed be the means to the end, but they are not the goal.  Better statements of goal may include “Weigh 20 lbs less” or “Reduce waist diameter by 4 inches”.  Statement of goals as results opens up alternatives in what actions lead to the goal.  Perhaps you can skip the exercise and go straight to surgery.


With technical goals, a focus on results is also preferred.  The ANSI drawing standards for a hole used to allow the statement “Drill Hole 1.00 inch diameter”.  Now, the standard says to just state the hole size without constraining the manufacturing method. 


Use of specific standards such as the ANSI drawing standard can make defining measurable objectives easier.  In the Rose example, US News is a type of standard.  For the icemaker, UL certification could be a specific objective.


Finally, some people use the SMART acronym for setting goals or objectives.  In that nomenclature, a goal should be

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time Constrained


In this unit we will concentrate on the first two.  The last three are particularly relevant for addressing business or personal goals.



Learning Objectives

You should be able to:

  1. Define and state and example for each of the terms listed in New Concepts
  2. Given a listed goal state if it is unambiguous and measurable.
  3. Given an ambiguous goal, you can develop sub goals with measurable criteria that an independent observer can use to evaluate a result (example: generate a drawing of an existing part such that a vendor would produce an identical part.  Write a design specification in which all the sub goals are measurable.)
  4. Given a vaguely-stated goal, develop specific and concrete examples to show that the goal is met.  Example:  If asked if your product is reliable, you could respond by stating the mean time between failures, MBTF, for your product and compare that with your competitor’s product.
  5. Define a personal goal in observable terms, with measurable criteria; collect evidence; and evaluate that evidence in a way that most independent observers would agree with your assessment.  (Example:  I want to be able to juggle two golf balls in one hand through 15 repeated vertical throws such that there is never more than one ball in my hand and all 15 throws are caught.  I should be able to accomplish this at least once in every five tries.  Evidence is in the form of a videotape or personal exhibition.)






Exercise 1 (3 min.): As part of a small group, consider the following goals.  Determine if they are unambiguous and measurable.


·         A child should not be able to open the pill bottle.

·         To really understand calculus.

·         To determine the heaviest of five bowling balls.

·         To run faster.

·         To eat three McDonalds Quarter pound hamburgers in three minutes.

·         To run a Marathon


Exercise 2 (3 min.): As part of a small group, rewrite two of the ambiguous goals from Exercise 1 to make them unambiguous and measurable.


Exercise 3 (4min): As part of a small group, determine how you would set up a competition to determine who in the class is the fastest writer.


Exercise 4 (6 min): As part of a small group, select one of the numbered goals in the following example, state if it is unambiguous and measurable, and, if not, write down suggested modifications.  Note that this is not about values.  It doesn’t matter if you think this is a good or bad goal.  Only concern yourself with ambiguity and measurability.




PPS-2  Assessment

Assignment 1

A company for which you would like to work has asked you to submit an application.  From their literature you know that they want engineers who can a) manage a project independently and b) work cooperatively with others.


Write a cover letter in which you present evidence from your own life that you have met those goals.  This is a case where you don’t get to define or refine the goal, but need to develop specific evidence to show an independent observer that you have met those goals (assessment).   


Write the letter to

Ms. I.M. Sincere, Director Human Resources

Engineering Teams Inc.

51 Southside Drive

Humanville, Texas 


Your first paragraph can read “I am writing to apply for a position in your Engineering Start summer internship program.  I see from you literature that you are looking for engineers who can a) manage a project, and b) work cooperatively with others.” And then describe how you meet those objectives.  This will be evidence from your life, not from you imaginary friend.



You will be scored in two areas, Writing and Quality of Assessment


Quality of Assessment:

Excellent (10): Assessment is specific, quantitative and clearly relates to the criteria (e.g. independent project management).  Example: “In my Eagle Scout project, I proposed a plan to the city parks department, coordinated with the city forester, and then planted 25 new trees in a park. I maintained them for one year with only two of the trees needing to be replaced.” 

Mediocre:(5)    Assessment is vague, and reader has to make assumptions.  Example: “I ran a Lawn Service in the summer.”  This could mean your parents made you mow the lawn.  It would be improved by stating that you were “responsible for mowing, trimming and edging n different residential lawns for x months.  I recruited customers, estimated costs, performed the work, and collected the fees.

Weak:(0)         “I am a very hard worker who can manage projects and has had lots of experience with projects”.  The reviewer will conclude that you have CDD (clue deficit disorder) and burn your resume.


Excellent (10): Neat, mistake free (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) with clear topic sentences followed by supporting sentences.  One paragraph per topic.

Mediocre:(5)    Two mistakes. Missing topic sentence(s), two concepts per paragraph.

Weak:(0)         More than two structural mistakes.  Everything shoved into one paragraph.


PPS-2  Goals

Assignment 2  Engineering Drawing


From the sketch and description below, make a fully dimensioned and specified detail drawing that could be sent to a job shop for fabrication.



(10 pts)   All necessary dimensions are present, with no over-dimensioning 

(4 pts)     All the dimensions are measurable with commonly available inspection equipment. 

(2 pts)     The material is stated clearly and unambiguously. 

(8 pts)     Who, What, Where, and When are clearly indicated on the title block. 

(2 pts)     Consistent with ANSI drawing standard.


PPS-2  Assessment

Assignment 3  Engineering Drawing


Determine if a particular object meets the requirements of the engineering detail drawing.  Use the available equipment to measure the dimensions of the hardware, then compare those dimensions with the dimensions on the print.


Given:  An engineering drawing, a part that is supposed to be made to that drawing, and measurement equipment (calipers, micrometers, etc.)



For each dimension on the drawing, measure the corresponding feature on the part.

Compare each measurement and note any dimensions that are out of specification



You will be graded on how closely your assessment agrees with that of the instructor


Excellent (10): All print dimensions are measured and recorded.  Each measured dimension that is not within spec is noted.  Agreement between instructor and student is within the inherent accuracy of the measuring device multiplied by a factor of three.  (e.g. If a micrometer is accurate to 0.001 in, the agreement must be within 0.003)

Mediocre:(5)    Some dimensions not measured.  Several dimensions disagree with instructor’s measurement

Weak:(0)         Many measurements missing or inaccurate.


PPS-2   Goals and Assessment

Assignment 4: Personal Goal


Select some personal goal for your life that is reasonably attainable within one month. 


Part 1 -Turn in a memo that

  • States the goal
  • States observable and measurable sub goals or objectives
  • Describes how you will collect evidence to assess performance with respect to those goals.



You will be scored in two areas, Writing and Quality of Assessment


Clarity of Goals:

Excellent (10): All sub goals or objectives were unambiguous and measurable.

Mediocre:(5)    Some sub goals or objectives were ambiguous or not  measurable.

Weak:(0)         Goals were primarily ambiguous and un measurable


Excellent (10): Neat, mistake free (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) Clear memo format with To, From, Date, Subject.  One page or less.

Mediocre:(5)    Poor format with grammar/structure errors.

Weak:(0)         Several mistakes and/or missing format.



Part 2 - In one month, turn in a second memo that

  • States the goal, objectives, and measurable criteria.
  • Describes the collected evidence.
  • Assesses the performance by comparing the collected evidence to the objectives



You will be scored in two areas, Writing and Quality of Assessment


Quality of Assessment:

Excellent (10): Evidence is specific, concrete, and clearly relates to the criteria.

Mediocre:(5)    Evidence is partly specific, but has vague aspects and/or is not directly related to the criteria

Weak:(0)         Evidence is all vague, missing, and/or unrelated to the criteria


Excellent (10): Neat, mistake free (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) Clear memo format with To, From, Date, Subject.  One page or less.

Mediocre:(5)    Poor format with grammar/structure errors.

Weak:(0)         Several mistakes and/or missing format.

Goals and Assessment Feedback Form


Name _______________________                     


1.       At the outset of this unit, place a “B” in each category  of the chart to indicate your self assessment of your initial, or baseline skill level.

2.       At the end of the unit place an “A” in each category of the chart to indicate your self assessment of your skill level after practicing the skill.  Be prepared to provide documentation for your assessment.


Novices (less successful)


(Need lots

more practice)



Good Start

(some progress, but could do better)


Getting There





Almost There

(just a little more practice)








Experts (more successful)

Goals are stated as actions






Goals are stated in terms of results

Goals are not measurable






Goals are observable and measurable

Goals are vague and subject to interpretation






Goals are clear and unambiguous




(after completion of the unit)

What did I learn from this?






Which of the skills do I do pretty well?  (List Evidence)






Which skills could use some work? (List Evidence)





Possible In class Example

Modify the following goals to make them unambiguous and measurable.

Want a hole such that one inch diameter shaft will fit in it.

Better: The 1 inch diameter shaft should be able to fit in the hole without force

Better: The hole for the 1 inch diameter shaft should have a Running-Sliding fit

Best: The hole and shaft have an RC7 fit (available standard) with hole diam= and shaft diameter =