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A Direct Assessment Technique That Works

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.39.1 - 12.39.10



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Paper Authors


Aaron Hill U.S. Military Academy

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Major Aaron T. Hill is an instructor in the Structures Group of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, NY. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. MAJ Hill received a B.S.C.E. degree from USMA in 1997, an M.S. degree in Engineer Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 2001, and an M.S.C.E. degree from Virginia Tech in 2006.

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Fred Meyer U.S. Military Academy

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Colonel Karl F. (Fred) Meyer is an Associate Professor and Civil Engineering Program Director in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, NY. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. COL Meyer received a B.S. degree from USMA in 1984, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1993 and 2002.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Direct Assessment Technique that Works


The development and use of direct assessment techniques using embedded indicators has become more prevalent at this institution over the last two years in response to requirements to provide more meaningful assessment data without incurring additional faculty resources. A specific technique linking student grades to the assessment of program outcomes has been used successfully in two civil engineering courses with good success. This paper presents a revised procedure that serves to address previously expressed concerns related to mathematical processes within the assessment technique.

The assessment technique is constructed within a spreadsheet and is easy to modify for use in any course. Inherent to this assessment technique is a mapping of specific student activities, whether as part of a project or other graded assignment, to specific program outcomes. The mapping involves the assignment of a number between one (weak mapping) and five (strong mapping) by experienced faculty members who have taught the course at least once and are knowledgeable about both the course and its relation to the program outcomes. Included within the spreadsheet is a standard grading breakdown which lists the specific student activities and their relative point values. After assignment of points for each activity, the spreadsheet combines the grade values and the mapping values to determine an assessment of each program outcome.

Another meaningful aspect of the technique is the determination of the validity of each program outcome assessment value. The validity number allows the instructor to determine which program outcomes need either increased emphasis or the inclusion of additional student activities in the assessment. The number also assists instructors in reallocating resources or student effort from strongly assessed outcomes to outcomes where the validity of the assessment may be questionable.

This paper includes the discussion of data collected over two semesters for the CE Capstone Design Course and addresses the use of a similar system in a senior- level construction management course.


For years, educators have been trying to find innovative ways to capture what their students have learned to assess the effectiveness of their programs. Some strictly rely on student end-of-course critiques. Others rely solely on grades and some on a combination of the two. A method used in CE492, Design of Structural Systems, at the United States Military Academy (USMA) includes the use of embedded indicators to directly assess students’ abilities to achieve each of the 17 Civil Engineering (CE) Program Outcomes. Embedded indicators have been shown previously to provide a better assessment of student work.1-4

Hill, A., & Meyer, F. (2007, June), A Direct Assessment Technique That Works Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2732

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