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Assessment Process At A Large Institution

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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

3.116.1 - 3.116.9

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Paper Authors

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P. David Fisher

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Assessment Process at a Large Institution P. David Fisher Michigan State University

Abstract - This presentation focuses on the challenges encountered at a large, diversified institution as it organized itself, developed strategies, and implemented plans for continuous improvement through outcomes assessment of its undergraduate engineering programs. Several questions are addressed, including the following. What have been the respective roles of the faculty and administration? What has been Michigan State University's critical path in transforming itself to comply with ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 [1], [2]? What has changed in terms of the institutional self-study process? What important feedback has come from constituents? What benefits have been realized? What are some of the ongoing projects to further improve the academic programs? And, finally, how much did this effort cost?


In the April of 1996, I attended an IEEE-ABET/EAC Program Evaluator's Workshop in San Diego, California. For me, this was a refresher workshop since I had previously been certified by the IEEE-ABET/EAC as a Program Evaluator for electrical and computer engineering programs. Attendees were given a draft of ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 (ABET 2000), and it was discussed for about 30 minutes. Michigan State University (MSU) is scheduled for its next general review by ABET during the 1998-99 accreditation cycle. I learned at this workshop that this would coincide with the first year of the three-year phase in period for ABET 2000. I further learned that MSU would have an option of having its engineering programs evaluated under the existing criteria or under ABET 2000. Having attended a three-day FORD-MSU Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) workshop May of 1995, I recognized the long-term benefits for MSU if it elected to transition as quickly as possible to ABET 2000.

Because we had the option of moving to the new criteria or staying with the existing one, I was confronted with a problem many other institutions will not face in the future. I had to build a consensus within my department and within the college that ABET 2000 sooner would be much better than later. Throughout the summer of 1996, I developed a good understanding about ABET 2000. I invited to campus a representative group of employers of our students. I called this our body Employer Stakeholder Focus Group. They reviewed ABET 2000 and urged us to go for it. During the summer of 1996, I also met with the dean and discussed with him alternative strategies for proceeding. We agreed the process should be faculty driven. This is very consistent with ABET 2000 itself and with MSU's policy of delegating curricular responsibilities to the faculty. I further believed the process should be driven by the faculty because the faculty ultimately had to buy into ABET 2000 in order to make it work at MSU. As a professor of electrical engineering and a person with no administrative position, I agreed to assume the leadership role. I agreed to keep the dean informed of my progress. I would work during the fall of 1996 within my own department to see if the faculty would buy into ABET 2000. And I would keep other departments informed by giving periodic presentations to the department chairs. So, the dean and I agreed on a near-term plan; however, we knew the outcome was very uncertain.

1 asee98.doc

Fisher, P. D. (1998, June), Assessment Process At A Large Institution Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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