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A Worksheet For Planning The Assessment Of Engineering Education Proposals

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.62.1 - 3.62.6



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Thomas R. Williams

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Judith Ramey

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Session 1547

A Worksheet for Planning the Assessment of Engineering Education Proposals

Thomas R. Williams, Judith Ramey Dept. of Technical Communication College of Engineering University of Washington

The Problem: In proposing curricular innovations, engineering educators typically focus on the details of the new subject matter or pedagogical strategy that they are proposing to undertake, without concrete discussion of why they want to do it or of the gains that they expect to realize. A proposed curricular change, however, is fundamentally a claim that the change will improve the situation in some way—students will be better equipped to succeed in follow-on courses, for instance, or will like the material better, or will be more effective as professionals. Such curriculum proposals also can fall short in two related areas: failure to ground the claim in the pedagogical literature and failure to express the claim in a way that supports assessment of its success or failure. Without an explicit statement of the claim being made, supported by a statement of the instructional theory being invoked and expressed in terms of concrete, observable, measurable outcomes, an effective assessment plan for the proposal cannot be designed (until you say clearly what you are trying to do, no one can judge whether or how well you did it). And given the current climate, without a well-designed assessment component a proposal is unlikely to be successful.

A Solution: An Assessment Worksheet To support the efforts of participants in a curriculum design project both to coordinate their activities with other members of the team and to ensure that their efforts result in observable and measurable results, we have devised a simple assessment worksheet. (Olds and Miller, 1997, also propose a project evaluation matrix, but theirs attacks the problem of assessment from a somewhat different perspective.) The strength of our worksheet, we believe, lies in the fact that it encourages each member of the team (1) to articulate very specifically (and, perhaps as a consequence, to re-examine) the rationale motivating any proposed changes, (2) to formally subject those changes to the scrutiny of other team members, and (3) to place those changes in the broader contexts of an existing curriculum and of current instructional design theory. These activities, we believe, will both strengthen the coherence of the proposal and clarify the assessment strategies called for by the proposal's instructional goals and strategies.

The worksheet itself comprises seven fields. The first field, or column, labeled “Course(s) Proposed & Affected,” asks that the team put a label on a new course or pinpoint an existing course for which a change is proposed. But it does more, as well. By asking that other affected

Williams, T. R., & Ramey, J. (1998, June), A Worksheet For Planning The Assessment Of Engineering Education Proposals Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7533

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