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Exploring ABET Self-Studies: A Look at Pedagogy, Assessment, and Evaluation of Life-Long Learning

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Trends in Accreditation and Assessment

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Nathan M. Hicks University of Florida Orcid 16x16

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Nathan M. Hicks is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida and taught high school math and science for three years.

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Richard J. Aleong Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Richard J. Aleong is a doctoral student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He received his Master’s of Applied Science in Mechanical and Materials Engineering from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada with a research focus on engineering design education. He received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Materials Engineering from Queen’s University. His research interests focus on interdisciplinary inquiry and collaboration, qualitative research methodology, and teaching and learning in higher education.

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Exploring ABET Self-Studies: A Look at Pedagogy, Assessment, and Evaluation of Life-Long Learning

It is a continuous need to develop and improve engineering curricula that prepare engineering graduates for the increasingly global, social, and complex challenges of society. In the mid 1990s, the engineering accreditation agency ABET identified 11 student outcomes (a)–(k) (Criterion 3) that programs were required to develop in their students. However, while much work has been done in the area of student outcomes, curriculum challenges remain for educators and administrators due to the inherent difficulty in defining, observing, and assessing these outcomes in students. Given the driving force that accreditation plays in curriculum development, educators are challenged to consider how curriculum design at a program level may support the planning, assessment, pedagogy, and evaluation of student outcomes.

To answer this challenge, this project seeks to understand how engineering programs address student outcome (i), stated as “a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning”, in their ABET self-study curriculum documents. Outcome (i) was chosen for this study due to the recent outcome changes proposed by ABET which entirely omit the phrase, “life-long learning.”

In this research, a number of publicly available ABET self-studies from mechanical engineering programs were reviewed using qualitative content analysis approaches. Grounded by a curriculum design framework, all documents were coded by two independent researchers and discussed until consensus was reached. The study is an exploration into the perspectives and approaches presented by a variety of programs in order to better understand the landscape of practices associated with ABET outcome (i). We propose a Curriculum-Outcomes matrix that organizes the findings into three observed dimensions of outcome (i) (Perceptions, Abilities, and Behaviors) across four curriculum design elements (Description, Assessment, Pedagogy, and Evaluation). Using this approach, individual programs may further develop their own understanding and practices to meet their program needs, and self-assess their program for curriculum alignment.

Hicks, N. M., & Aleong, R. J. (2016, June), Exploring ABET Self-Studies: A Look at Pedagogy, Assessment, and Evaluation of Life-Long Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26841

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