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A Streamlined Approach to Developing and Assessing Program Educational Objectives and Program Outcomes

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Assessing Students and Programs

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.104.1 - 22.104.23



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Paper Authors


Christa Moll Weisbrook University of Missouri

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Dr. Christa M. Weisbrook, P.E., is a Faculty Fellow in the University of Missouri System Office of Academic Affairs, where she is involved in program review and assessment, course redesign, and collaborative programs initiatives. Prior to this appointment, she served as the special assistant to the provost and lecturer in engineering management at Missouri University of Science and Technology and the assistant dean for academic programs for the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri. Dr. Weisbrook earned B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has coordinated ABET efforts at the department, college and campus levels for over a decade and serves as a program evaluator for ABET.
Address: Academic Affairs, University of Missouri System, Columbia, MO 65211. Email:

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William Schonberg Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Dr. William P. Schonberg, P.E., is Professor and Chair of the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly known as the University of Missouri-Rolla). Dr. Schonberg has 25 years teaching and research experience in the areas of shock physics, spacecraft protection, hypervelocity impact, and penetration mechanics. He received his B.S.C.E from Princeton University in 1981, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University in 1983 and 1986, respectively. The results of his research have been applied to a wide variety of engineering problems, including the development of orbital debris protection systems for spacecraft in low earth orbit, kinetic energy weapons, the collapse of buildings under explosive loads, insensitive munitions, and aging aircraft. Since 1986, Dr. Schonberg has published over 65 papers in refereed journals on these topics, and has presented nearly 65 papers at a broad spectrum of international scientific and professional meetings, including several invited papers. To date, Dr. Schonberg has received over 35 contract and grants from a variety of federal, state, local, and private funding agencies, including the U.S. DoT, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Army Missile Command and the Engineering Foundation. In 1995 Dr. Schonberg received the AIAA’s Lawrence Sperry Award for his work on the design of spacecraft protection systems. In 1998, Dr. Schonberg was promoted to the membership rank of Associate Fellow in the AIAA and in 2000 was selected to receive the Charles Beecher Prize for one of his recent papers on orbital debris protection systems from the Aerospace Sciences Division of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in England. In 2004 and 2005, he was promoted to the member rank of Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, respectively. In 1997, he was a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Space Shuttle Micro-Meteoroid/Orbital Debris (MMOD) Risk Management, and in 2004 he served on NASA’s Independent MMOD Risk Assessment Tool Validation and Verification (V&V) Committee. In 2007, Dr. Schonberg received a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation in Germany. This award enabled him to spend seven months at the Fraunhofer Ernst Mach Institute in Freiburg, Germany working on advanced MMOD protection systems for satellites and developing preliminary designs for safe lunar habitats using in-situ materials for protection against meteoroid impacts. This year he served on another NASA Independent V&V Committee to review the MMOD risk assessment process for NASA’s Constellation program. At Missouri S&T, Dr. Schonberg continues to teach a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses in civil, mechanical, and aerospace engineering.

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A Streamlined Approach to Developing and Assessing Program Educational Objectives and Program OutcomesThe radical change in the process employed by ABET to accredit engineering programs with theadvent of EC2000 has produced much anguish and confusion for faculty and administratorswithin departments and institutions attempting to meet new and changing expectations. Theterminology and methods used in outcomes-based assessment are often unfamiliar to engineeringfaculty even though faculty commonly engage in informal continuous improvement efforts intheir courses and programs as they endeavor to provide a quality educational experience for theirstudents.To educate and inform engineering faculty on the evolving expectations of ABET, a plethora ofworkshops and sessions conducted at engineering society meetings and conferences provideguidance in developing assessment tools and methods. In addition, ABET sponsors webinarsand assessment workshops on an ongoing basis. While much useful information aboutassessment methodology is available through such workshops and presentations (as well as inarticles that have appeared in various journals), the novice (and expert) can leave such gatheringsoverwhelmed with options and confused about what is expected. In addition, sight of the maingoal of the process—continuous program improvement—is sometimes lost in the confusion andthe perceived effort needed to follow the rules and to meet the expectations of evaluators.While there are many valid and effective ways to address the development and assessment ofprogram educational objectives and program outcomes, many faculty and administratorscontinue to struggle with the fundamentals of ABET assessment requirements. Uncomplicatedmethods of developing such statements, and straightforward, easy-to-comprehend methods ofassessment are needed for the novice as well as those who have been working with the ABETassessment process for a while. In particular, to maintain a truly sustainable continuous qualityimprovement process, buy-in from faculty is necessary; simple assessment processes contributesignificantly to acceptance and support by the individuals who are responsible for programassessment.Presented in this paper are methods of developing and assessing program educational objectivesand program outcomes that the authors found to be straightforward, coherent, efficient andeffective as they used them within their own departments and also shared them with faculty inthe other departments at their institution. Case studies are presented as well as lessons learnedfrom recent objectives and outcomes assessment exercises and accreditation visits. The authorshave found that following the processes presented herein results in an sustainable assessmentplan that is straightforward to implement and easy for faculty and administrators to comprehend.  

Weisbrook, C. M., & Schonberg, W. (2011, June), A Streamlined Approach to Developing and Assessing Program Educational Objectives and Program Outcomes Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17386

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