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Direct Measures For Course Outcomes Assessment For Abet Accreditation

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Accreditation Issues

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.439.1 - 13.439.8



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Paper Authors


Hakan Gurocak Washington State University-Vancouver

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Hakan Gurocak is Director of School of Engineering and Computer Science and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University Vancouver. His research interests are haptic interfaces, robotics, automation, fuzzy logic and technology assisted distance delivery of laboratory courses.

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

Direct Measures for Course Outcomes Assessment for ABET Accreditation

Abstract - Direct measures provide for the direct examination or observation of student knowledge or skills against measurable learning outcomes. ABET has been putting increasing emphasis on direct measures for a program to demonstrate its achievement of program outcomes and educational objectives. In this paper, an approach for assessment of course outcomes using direct measures is presented. The knowledge and skills described by the course outcomes are mapped to specific problems on homework and exams. Throughout the semester the instructor keeps track of the performance of each student on each course outcome. At the end of the semester students receive letter grades as usual. But in addition each student receives a “score” on the scale of 1-to-5 for every course outcome indicating how well he/she achieved each outcome. The data (scores) coming from each course are used at the program level to assess the program outcomes. The paper provides an example and concludes with recommendations for other institutions that may choose to adapt a similar approach.

I. Introduction

ABET Criterion 3 for accrediting engineering programs requires each program to have program outcomes. Furthermore, it requires that “… these program outcomes are being measured and [assessment process] indicates the degree to which the outcomes are achieved”1. Assessment methods are classified into direct and indirect methods. Direct methods can be used to assess knowledge or skills attained by students through direct examination or observation of student performance in meeting a specific outcome. Although the ABET criteria do not specify any assessment methods, using direct measures provides stronger evidence of student learning attributed to the program effectiveness2. Typical direct measure opportunities include end-of- course assessment, targeted assignments, capstone experience, capstone examination and portfolios3-9.

The mechanical engineering program at Washington State University Vancouver has implemented an ABET assessment system where course outcomes are tied to program outcomes through a set of program-level performance criteria. Performance criteria (PC) are measurable attributes identifying the performance required to meet an outcome and are confirmable through evidence. A mapping of these PCs to each course defines the course outcomes. In each course faculty measure how well each course outcome was met using scores on the scale of 1-to-5 (highest). At the end of each semester these scores are processed by the curriculum committee to evaluate achievement of the program outcomes. In the following section, a direct measurement approach for course outcomes is explained.

II. Direct measures for course outcomes

As stated earlier, direct measures provide for the direct examination or observation of student knowledge or skills against measurable learning outcomes. The approach explained in this

Gurocak, H. (2008, June), Direct Measures For Course Outcomes Assessment For Abet Accreditation Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3493

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