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Design of a Sustainable Process for Undergraduate Curriculum Reform, Development and Assessment: a Chemical Engineering Case Study

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

ABET and Curriculum-Level Assessments

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.432.1 - 22.432.6



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Paper Authors


Larissa V. Pchenitchnaia Texas A&M University

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Dr. Larissa V. Pchenitchnaia is a Curriculum Renewal Specialist at Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Dr. Pchenitchnaia’s has a Ph.D. in educational administration (higher education). Her professional interests include faculty professional development, curriculum development, and assessment of teaching practices and learning outcomes. She can be reached at

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Lale Yurttas Texas A&M University

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Design of a Sustainable Process for Undergraduate Curriculum Reform, Development and Assessment: a Chemical Engineering Case StudyA chemical engineering program at a big research extensive university has undertaken a projectto design and implement a sustainable and responsive process to renew its entire four-yearundergraduate curriculum to address pressures of multi-disciplinary technological developmentsand the growing breadth of abilities and knowledge areas expected for competitive chemicalengineering graduates. This paper will discuss the process, the outcomes and experiences of thethree-year, NSF-sponsored project to reform chemical engineering undergraduate curriculum.Additionally, it includes a discussion of the elements of a continuous improvement process,assessment methods and how assessment data were used to improve chemical engineeringcourses and curriculum.In a time of rapid change, academic programs must experiment and evolve in order to keep pacewith advances in knowledge, changes in professional practice, and shifting conditions in society.The need for responsive academic programs is particularly a concern in scientific andtechnological fields where the growth of knowledge is exponential (Rugarcia, et al.,[1]). Achemical engineering department at a big research extensive university developed andimplemented several strategies to address these issues: (1) curriculum content reform anddevelopment; (2) faculty and students assessment activities; (3) integrated assessment plans andprocesses throughout the chemical engineering curriculum. The research points out that a majorchallenge is not initiating curricular reform but institutionalizing the reform for the majority ofthe students on the sustainable basis (Clark, et al., [2], Colbeck [3]). This paper will discuss thestrategies that were used to involve the entire department in contributing to and applying theideas generated in the project. The strategies implemented ensure that the process is continuous,and responds to the demands by global changes in knowledge, skills, and society. Consistentconversations about learning outcomes, assessment, and continuous improvement engagedfaculty members in a collective effort for sustained change. Some of these continuous strategiesincluded (1) identifying and organizing curriculum development activities around four coursestrings to improve integration of learning outcomes and activities; (2) developing interlinkedcurriculum components (web-based teaching and learning modules) to organize and reinforcecore ideas in chemical engineering curricular; (3) creating an integrated assessment plan that isbeing used to analyze the learning and development of chemical engineering students withrespect to forward-looking set of learning outcomes, and (4) using service learning in requiredchemical engineering courses.All above described strategies turned out to be very useful to the process of continuousimprovement and assessment of a chemical engineering program outcomes and objectives andthus to the process of satisfying ABET engineering criteria. An ABET self-study report mustinclude objectives and outcomes, as well as statements of where the outcomes are addressed inthe program curriculum, how their level of attainment is to be assessed, and how the assessmentresults will be used to improve the program. The chemical engineering department has recentlybeen successfully accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc.References1. Rugarcia, A., Felder, R. M., Woods, D. R., & Stice, J. E. (2000). The Future of EngineeringEducation I. A Vision for a New Century. Chemical Engineering Education, 34(1), 16-25.2. Clark, M., Froyd, J., Merton, P., & Richardson, J. (2004). The Evolution of Curricular ChangeModels within the Foundation Coalition. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(1), 37-47.3. Colbeck, C.L. (2002). Assessing Institutionalization of Curricular and Pedagogical Reforms.Research in Higher Education, 43(4), 397-421.AcknowledgmentsThe authors would like to acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation underGrant No. EEC-0530638. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed inthis material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NationalScience Foundation.

Pchenitchnaia, L. V., & Yurttas, L. (2011, June), Design of a Sustainable Process for Undergraduate Curriculum Reform, Development and Assessment: a Chemical Engineering Case Study Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17713

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