June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.258.1 - 14.258.12
ASSESSMENT OF PROGRAM OUTCOMES FOR ABET ACCREDITATION
Abstract In EAC Criterion 3, ABET requires the degree program to demonstrate to the extent each program outcome is met. One of the main challenges is the development of measurable learning outcomes. This paper presents an overview of defining a set of performance criteria for each program outcome to convert the program outcomes into measurable learning outcomes. It then focuses on a weighted average approach to assemble assessment data for analysis. The assessment approach presented in the paper can be a good model for new institutions or programs seeking ABET accreditation. It can also provide ideas for existing programs that have already been through previous assessment cycles.
I. Introduction The Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) publishes an accreditation criteria document annually1. The document lists nine criteria to be met by the program for successful accreditation. Criterion 3 “Program Outcomes” is one of the most challenging criteria. Recent statistics by ABET indicated that about 35% of the 59 programs evaluated at 20 institutions in 2007 had shortcomings in Criterion 32. Program outcomes are statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. They relate to the skills, knowledge and behaviors that students acquire in their matriculation through the program. In this criterion, ABET requires the program to demonstrate “the degree to which the program outcomes are attained” by the program1. This is challenging because it requires a good mix of direct and indirect assessment of student performance, systematic data collection, assembly, analysis and evaluation. Furthermore, the program must demonstrate that there is a continuous improvement process in place. For new programs or existing programs, transition to this new outcomes-based approach can be difficult. At many institutions the program outcomes are assessed using various rubrics. Course content is mapped directly to the program outcomes and student grades are used to show the level of achievement of the program outcomes. Faculty course assessment reports are used to measure and document the program outcomes3,4,5. Capstone courses are where culminating projects are given to the students. Therefore, sometimes these courses are used either to assess all program outcomes or a subset of them using rubrics for oral presentations, report writing and teamwork6,7. The development of measurable learning outcomes is the most crucial aspect of any assessment process8. Curriculum maps showing how the program outcomes are addressed across a curriculum or within given courses can demonstrate that certain types of materials are presented to the students. But these maps do not provide evidence of student learning of the desired skills. Furthermore, surveys and course grades are not, by themselves or collectively, acceptable methods for documenting achievement of outcomes since they provide evidence of either student opinions, or of generalized student achievement across potentially broad areas of study.
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