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Assessment of Student Outcomes in a Distinctive Engineering Program

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Systems Engineering Learning Outcomes and Assessment

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

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Paper Authors


Kamran Iqbal University of Arkansas, Little Rock

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Kamran Iqbal obtained his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering, and MBA degree from the Ohio State University. He has held teaching and/or research appointments at the Ohio State University, Northwestern University, University of California, Riverside, University of California, Irvine, California State University at Fullerton, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), where he currently serves as Professor of Systems Engineering. He served as Assistant Chair of the Systems Engineering department and helped launch the Masters of Systems Engineering and PhD in Engineering Science and Systems programs at UALR. He has taught a variety of courses in systems and electrical engineering program and written a book titled ‘Fundamental Engineering Optimization Methods.’ His research interests include linear systems theory, biomedical engineering, biomechatronics, and computational intelligence. He is a member of IEEE, IET (UK), ASEE, IASTED, and Sigma Xi (former president of the Sigma Xi Central Arkansas Chapter). More information on him is available at

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Gary T. Anderson University of Arkansas, Little Rock

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Gary Anderson has taught engineering to non-traditional students for the past 26 years. He is especially interested in teaching design and creative problem solving. He holds a BSEE degree from Rice University and a PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas in Austin. Dr. Anderson currently serves as the chair of the Department of Systems Engineering at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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University of XXX systems engineering program recently hosted an ABET accreditation visit. As per current ABET policy, the program was evaluated on ABET general criteria alone. The program is non-traditional in nature and offers electrical systems and mechanical systems options in addition to a core systems engineering component. The program educational objectives (PEO) address the employability of its graduates, their ability to conduct scientific and engineering research, and their ability to gain admission to professional programs. The student outcomes (SO) broadly replicate the ABET (a)-(k) with minor alterations. These outcomes are assessed as per the assessment plan adopted by the department based on the following principles: 1. The achievement of each SO is to be demonstrated by a primary course and possibly by a supporting course. Both courses must be from the systems engineering core component that is completed by all students. 2. The achievement of each SOs should include the assessment of all components of that particular SO. 3. The methodology of measurement should be straightforward, measuring directly the achievement of the SO by measuring the achievement of its component parts instead of by indirect means such as measuring the accomplishment of course learning objectives and then mapping the objectives to the SO. 4. Assessment methodology may be based on samples of the student work such as assignments, exams, projects, presentations, laboratory experiments, etc.

Course instructors for designated courses complete and submit a standardized assessment form at the end of each semester. These are then reviewed and scrutinized by the departmental assessment committee. Additionally, samples of student work supporting assessment are retained and placed in the course binders maintained in the department office.

The expected level of attainment on assessment measures for each SO varies depending on the assessment tool. On most tools that use numerical grades (e.g., test or homework scores, laboratory reports, etc.), an average score of 70% or higher from all students taking the assessment is considered satisfactory. On assessments that are normally scaled or graded on a curve, a rating is determined only on those students who receive a grade of ‘C’ or better in the course. A rating of satisfactory requires the average student performance on the assessment instruments equal the average of those students who received a grade of ‘B’ in the course. On assessment instruments that do not use a numerical grade, a rating of satisfactory requires that 70% of students meet the minimal criteria for acceptable performance.

The assessment results for the previous six assessment cycles show that of the 11 SOs, seven were assessed as satisfactory in every assessment cycle. The remaining four were assessed as marginal (i.e., the assessment criteria were met, but were within 3% of being unsatisfactory) in one or more assessment cycles. The systems engineering program has implemented numerous changes to improve its program over the last six years. This study will analyze yearly assessment results and how curriculum and/or program changes helped improve and strengthen the assessment process.

Iqbal, K., & Anderson, G. T. (2016, June), Assessment of Student Outcomes in a Distinctive Engineering Program Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26338

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