This paper reports on the use of design histories for the purpose of process evaluation. The technique involved exploring different representations of project documentation analogous to “X-ray photographs” of the human body. The study was conducted in the context of a graduate level design class that uses industry sponsored projects. It was found that the project grades in the class were strongly associated (gamma > 0.7) with the number of distinct noun phrases in the project documents while they were weakly associated with other variables like readability and number of words. These initial results show that noun phrases could serve as important surrogates for measuring the mechanical design process.

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