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A Simple And Effective Curriculum Assessment Procedure

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.106.1 - 7.106.7



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Paper Authors

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Jim Richardson

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

Main Menu Session Number 1896

A Simple and Effective Curriculum Assessment Procedure

Jim Richardson Civil Engineering Dept., University of Alabama


This paper describes a curriculum assessment procedure that is easy to use and provides meaningful results. The core of the procedure is a review by a department committee of student work from each civil engineering course. The author proposed the idea of a peer-review assessment procedure to the faculty during a departmental retreat and the faculty developed the implementation plan. Our department has completed two cycles of the assessment and evaluation procedure and successfully passed our ABET accreditation review last fall. The best endorsements of the effectiveness of this procedure, however, are the curriculum changes volunteered by the faculty during the “report-out” phase of the procedure.


By now, at least a couple of people in each engineering department in this country have wrestled with curriculum assessment in preparation for ABET accreditation by the Engineering Criteria (EC) 2000 1. As chair of the department undergraduate curriculum committee, I was willing to do a job no one else in the department wanted to do¾develop an assessment plan for our upcoming ABET visit. In exchange, I asked that the assessment plan be meaningful, that is, lead to actual curriculum change. “Of greater value than merely satisfying this [accreditation] requirement, however, is that a good, functional assessment plan can significantly improve the quality of the undergraduate educational experience.” 2

To be functional, I wanted our assessment plan to be a peer review of student work. Peer review because, as University of Alabama Electrical Engineering professor Russ Pimmel puts it, “Who wants to buy gas from a station that calibrates its own pumps?” And student work because, while necessary, student opinions are by no means a sufficient source of information about the quality of a course. Others have used peer review of courses and collection of student work are discussed below.

The Chemical Engineering Department at the University of West Virginia has an outstanding peer review of student learning—the Majors. 2 “The Majors are design projects the students must complete individually and defend in front of at least two faculty members.” The Majors, which date back to the 1970s, incur significant faculty time, however. Other examples of peer review of student work include: faculty-colleague check sheet evaluations of project reports3, reviews of student portfolios and course folders of capstone design work3, annual evaluation of portfolios of student writing assignments by faculty advisors 4, and before- graduation evaluation of writing assignment portfolios by a faculty/industry committee 4

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Richardson, J. (2002, June), A Simple And Effective Curriculum Assessment Procedure Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10585

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