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Assessing The Assessments: Sometimes The Results Are Surprising

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

TC2K Issues and Experiences

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.230.1 - 10.230.10



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Paper Authors

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James Higley

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Jana Whittington

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Joy Colwell

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

Session 2150

Assessing the Assessments: Sometimes the Results are Surprising

Joy L. Colwell, Jana Whittington, James Higley

Purdue University Calumet

ABSTRACT: The Manufacturing Engineering Technologies and Supervision Department at Purdue University Calumet has been actively involved with course embedded assessment techniques for more than three years. The assessment project has spanned the engineering technologies programs, the computer graphics technology program, and the organizational leadership and supervision programs. During those three years, the faculty members have learned much about structuring course-embedded assessments and using those assessments for continuous improvement in support of program goals and ABET outcomes. This paper will outline the basic premises and methods of our assessments, then compare data from traditional and online courses, and discuss how “soft” skills such as teamwork, communication and peer review, and creative problem-solving can be assessed in both traditional and online courses. Specific data from engineering technology, computer graphics technology, and organizational leadership and supervision will be discussed, as well as statistical data comparing results from online courses and traditional courses. In the assessment process, we found surprising results, particularly in the summative assessment process of collecting data for continuous improvement and ABET outcomes. Some possible explanations for the results will be offered.


In the late 1990’s, engineering and technology educators received perhaps the greatest shock of their careers – accreditation was changing to outcomes-based assessment from a decades-old list of topics. After the shock wore off, it took several years of hard work for most educators just to understand outcomes-based assessment, let alone perform any meaningful assessments.

The difficulty most engineering and technology educators have with outcomes-based assessment can be easily understood by studying the mental models developed by Ned Herrmann [1]. This four-quadrant model of the brain shows most technical and analytical functions reside in quadrant A – the left cerebral side of the brain. Based on data generated by Herrmann International, most engineering and technology educators map strongly in that quadrant. Hence, most engineers, technologists, and educators in those areas prefer to work alone in search of a single, correct answer. However, the new ABET guidelines include such items as teamwork, appreciation for diversity, communication, understanding of the need for lifelong learning, and other “soft” topics that fit in the right side of the brain.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Higley, J., & Whittington, J., & Colwell, J. (2005, June), Assessing The Assessments: Sometimes The Results Are Surprising Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15278

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