June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.578.1 - 12.578.19
Effecting Improvement in an Industrial Engineering Program by Applying Outcome Assessment Results
Soft skills and abilities such as ABET-specified outcome item (h) [the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context], which is mandated for all engineering programs, are difficult to assess, and difficult to improve. In this paper, in the context of Industrial Engineering, we show how such outcome items can be assessed and improved. We achieve this through a continuous improvement process via changes to the capstone design course and the creation of a Kaizen course, both of which emphasize qualities important to all vested interests, including students, industrial partners, advisory board members, and faculty. Improvement in the achievement of outcome item (h) is demonstrated first. This is followed by improvement in the achievement of various other outcome items. Results of outcome item measurement are compared between both students and industrial partners. Finally, insights obtained from the experimental Kaizen course are described, and future course changes are detailed, including methods of outcome assessment.
Since 2000, all accredited engineering programs have been required to document assessment of outcome items a-k as defined by ABET.1 Some of these outcome items can be classified as ‘hard’ skills, such as (c) [an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability]. The evaluation and assessment of ‘hard’ skills is generally considered to be significantly easier than that of ‘soft’ skills and abilities, such as (h) [The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context]. Without good assessment methods, determining if improvements have been made becomes even more difficult. If a program can successfully assess the softer skills as required by ABET, then its ability to improve is significantly increased. Moreover, measuring the impact of these improvements can then also be accomplished through the cycle of assessment.
An ongoing cycle of assessment and improvement activities that effectively improve the soft skill requirements of an engineering program can most likely successfully impact all skills and abilities—both hard and soft. In addition to curriculum improvements, the assessment cycle can and should also include the periodic evaluation of departmental educational objectives. These relationships and the cyclical process are currently used in the Industrial Engineering (IE) program at Iowa State University (ISU) (see e.g., Ball et al. (2007) for the departmental improvement efforts on global enterprise perspectives)2 as shown in Figure 1.3 A continuous improvement process can also be applied to individual courses. Over multiple semesters, the changes made within a course can be tracked through the assessment process, and by tracking assessment scores, changes for improvement can be identified.
Potter, L., & Min, K. J., & Peters, F. (2007, June), Effecting Improvement In An Industrial Engineering Program By Applying Outcome Assessment Results Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1987
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