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A Critique of EC 2000 from Amartya Sen’s Capability Framework

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Conference

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division (TELPhE) Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division (TELPhE)

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--42382

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/42382

Download Count

217

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Paper Authors

biography

R. Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University, then spent fourteen years as a faculty member at Oklahoma State University working on terahertz frequencies and engineering education, developing resources in photonics and engineering design. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, served as chair in the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department and secretary of the faculty at Bucknell University. At Bucknell he helped found the Maker-E, an electronic MakerSpace for students.He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophy of engineering education. He has served as associate editor on several journals, an ABET PEV, and on several national-level advisory boards.

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Sarah Appelhans Bucknell University

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Sarah Appelhans is a postdoctoral research assistant at Bucknell University. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her dissertation research, "Flexible Lives on Engineering's Bleeding Edge: Gender, Migration and Belonging in Semiconductor Manufacturing", investigates the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, and immigration status among semiconductor engineers. She is currently the resident social scientist in the Electrical Engineering Department at Bucknell, exploring how to teach convergent ("deeply integrative") problems to undergraduate engineers. Past research projects include studies of governance in engineering education and the influence of educational technology on engineering education.

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Stewart Thomas Bucknell University

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Stewart Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He received the B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. and the Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He is a member of ASEE and IEEE.

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Rebecca Thomas Bucknell University

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Rebecca Thomas is the inaugural director for the Pathways Program at Bucknell University, where she oversees the rollout of Bucknell's E-Portfolio initiative. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2018 and currently instructs the first-year course for ECE majors. She holds a B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.

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Abstract

Most engineering programs in the United States are accredited by ABET under the guidelines known as EC-2000. The EC-2000 framework is broadly based on the continual quality management (CQM) movement in industry where programs are striving to constantly improve the quality of their output, in this case the skills of graduates. Broadly speaking, ABET evaluates engineering programs on eight different criteria; some are related to processes, some to resources, but those central to CQM are program educational objectives, that define hoped for long-term accomplishments of graduates, and outcomes which articulate what students can do when they graduate. Degree programs must convince ABET they have a documented and effective process to improve outcomes to gain accreditation.

CQM of course is not the only framework by which educational development can be framed or measured. This paper explores ABET processes through the lens of the economist Amartya Sen’s capability approach, which is broadly applied in the developing world in areas of inequity, poverty, and human rights. The capability approach is often used when a focus on diverse individuals is desirable for understanding aspects of development. Central to Sen’s approach are capabilities and functionings. Capabilities are the resources and supports in an individual’s environment that provide opportunities to pursue a life they value. Functionings are what they actually become and do. Thus capabilities can be thought of as the potential for functionings; alternatively capabilities are opportunities and functionings are outcomes. This paper compares ABET’s accreditation criteria with a published set of capabilities in education. The comparison shows there are some areas where criteria overlap with capabilities, but also several areas where the overlap is low. The capabilities that aligned most with ABET criteria overlap with engineering epistemologies and a view of students as the ‘product’ of engineering education.

Cheville, R. A., & Appelhans, S., & Thomas, S., & Thomas, R. (2023, June), A Critique of EC 2000 from Amartya Sen’s Capability Framework Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42382

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