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Closing The Loop: The Difference Between Making Improvements And Continuous Improvement

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.271.1 - 6.271.7



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Mohammad Zaharee

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Gregory Neff

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Susan Scachitti

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

Session 2647

Closing the Loop: The Difference between Making Improvements and Continuous Improvement

Gregory Neff, Susan Scachitti, and Mohammad Zahraee Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, Indiana


Criteria1 published by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology TAC of ABET are continually changing. In preparing for a TAC of ABET accreditation visit, many engineering technology faculty and administrators are hard pressed to distinguish between a list of useful improvement initiatives and a continuous improvement plan. This paper discusses how to make the process of program improvement continuous by “closing the loop.” Closing the loop is institutionalizing the process of finding program improvement initiatives and repeating it continually. Various methods of assessment can be used to stimulate individuals to continually generate program improvement initiatives. Much can be accomplished if faculty members are immersed in a continuous improvement culture. The paper draws on the authors’ program accreditation experience and discusses efforts to create a continuous improvement culture in the METS Department at Purdue University Calumet through annual report requirements deciding pay raises, promotion & tenure, creation of a continuous improvement advisory team, and several other continuous improvement initiatives.

I. Introduction

Why do the administrators and faculty responsible for technology programs have a problem distinguishing between a list of program improvement initiatives and a continuous improvement plan? Part of the problem is unfamiliarity. The Criteria for Accrediting Programs in Engineering Technology before 1997-98 did not require that a continuous improvement plan be implemented. The TAC of ABET accreditation process has changed to increasingly emphasize the continuous improvement process. A measure of the increasing emphasis on continuous improvement is evident by looking at the Engineering Technology Program Evaluation questionnaire, Form T4, used by evaluation team members. For the 1992-93 accreditation cycle, the T4 had no questions on continuous improvement. The program accreditation cycle beginning in fall 1999 marked the first time TAC evaluators looked for evidence that a written continuous improvement plan had been implemented and that assessment data were being used to improve the program. Currently, there are five questions on the T4 form related to continuous improvement that evaluators must answer based on interviews and a two-volume self-study questionnaire. The lack of a continuous improvement plan and evidence of implementation leading to program improvements are weaknesses frequently cited by TAC evaluators. A

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Zaharee, M., & Neff, G., & Scachitti, S. (2001, June), Closing The Loop: The Difference Between Making Improvements And Continuous Improvement Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9001

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