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Developing Your Outcomes Assessment Process

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.185.1 - 4.185.8

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Paper Authors

author page

Russell Dean

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Charles F. Yokomoto

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

Session 3431


Charles F. Yokomoto, Russell K. Dean Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis/West Virginia University


In this paper, we describe several issues related to the development of an outcomes assessment process, a key element in an organization’s assessment plan. We will present a comparison of several examples of high-profile outcomes assessment processes, explain why an organization should develop its own assessment process instead of adopting one written by another organization, and highlight the difficulties caused by the lack of standard terminology within the ASEE and ABET organizations. We will make suggestions on how to read a published process and how to develop your assessment process and describe implications of the high degree of complexity of outcomes assessment as a process.

1. Introduction

The essential reasons for engaging in outcomes assessment, other than to satisfy ABET’s new EC 2000 criteria, are to provide evidence that your students have learned what you think they have learned and to identify areas where improvements are needed. Thus, each organization’s assessment plan should include a process for assessing measurable outcomes with which positive changes to an academic program can be made. While the larger plan should include the organizational structure, staffing, financing and resources, time lines, database management, and the like, it is the outcomes assessment process, or cycle, that presents the largest hurdle to faculty buy-in. An acceptable and successful cycle is probably the most difficult part of the full plan to develop. What makes it difficult to develop, in spite of the simplicity of a general description of cycle, is that it can be implemented in so many different ways. The expression, “The devil is in the details” describes the situation well. In this paper, we will discuss why you should develop your own outcomes assessment cycle instead of adopting one from the literature. We will also present examples of several high-visibility processes from the literature, tips on how to interpret them, and the confusion that can exist because of nonstandard terminology. Finally, we give suggestions that may help you as you develop your own outcomes assessment cycle.

2. Why You Should Develop Your Own Assessment Process

There are several reasons why you should develop your own assessment process instead of adopting one from the literature. They include the following: C You will develop a better understanding of the assessment process, just as students learn more in engineering and technology courses if they do their own work instead of copying the work of others. C You will be able to modify your process when you run into difficulties if you understand

Dean, R., & Yokomoto, C. F. (1999, June), Developing Your Outcomes Assessment Process Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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