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Formative vs. Summative ABET Assessment: A Comprehensive Graphic Representation for a New BME Program

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Pipeline and Performance in BME Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.790.1 - 26.790.14



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Paper Authors


Davide Piovesan Gannon University

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Davide Piovesan was born in Venice, Italy on October 10 , 1978. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at Gannon University and the director of the Biomedical Engineering Program. He received his M.S.M.E in 2003 and D.Eng in Mechanical Measurement in 2007 at the University of Padova, Italy. His dissertation presented a set of experimental and analytical validation techniques for human upper limb models. From 2004 to 2008 he was a visiting scholar and post-doctoral fellow at the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Lab at Brandeis University. There, he worked on the mechanics of movement adaptation in non inertial environments as part of a NASA extramural funding program. He joined Northwestern University in 2008, working as a post-doc fellow at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago until 2013 in the field of rehabilitation robotics. Davide’s main research interest is to gain insights on the role of biomechanics in the neural control of movements, with applications to rehabilitation engineering.

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Karinna M. Vernaza Gannon University

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Dr. Karinna Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003, and she is currently a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Business. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.S. is in Marine Systems Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Her primary teaching responsibilities are in the solid mechanics and materials areas, including biomaterials. She was awarded the 2012 ASEE NCS Outstanding Teacher Award, 2013 Gannon University Distinguished Faculty Award and 2013-2014 Gannon University Faculty Award for Excellence in Service-Learning. Vernaza does research in the area of alternative fuels (biodiesel), engineering education (active learning techniques), and high-strain deformation of materials. She is currently the PI of an NSF S-STEM and ADVANCE-PAID grants.

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A new longitudinal analysis for ABET accreditation of a new BME program: formative vs summativeassessmentThis paper presents an innovative methodology for the assessment of a new Biomedical Engineering(BME) program. Biomedical engineering programs are quite new in the engineering educational system.To date, in the state of Pennsylvania there are only six programs that have been accredited by ABET.While the guidelines of ABET are quite general and applicable to a variety of programs with differentfocuses, the scarcity of published data on BME specific programs poses a significant challenge on thepreparation and assessment of program specific requirements. Another rather significant challenge isthe limited number of students graduating from a brand new program that does not give sufficientstatistical power to confirm the reliability of the assessment process.To obviate these limitations we design a longitudinal analysis for the assessment process that can helpunderstand if any improvement occurs from the freshman and sophomore year (formative assessment),where concepts are introduced, to junior and senior years (summative assessment), where the conceptsare reiterated and assessed again. By having a formative and summative assessment it is possible toevaluate if improvement occurs within the cohort, allowing for the redaction of a continuousimprovement plan.The XXX University BME program has instituted a common assessment rubric for each ABET outcome a-kadding one additional program specific outcome. The same rubric is used by each professor to assess thecorresponding outcome that is pertinent to his/her course. The rubrics have a different number ofperformance indicators (or dimensions) to allow for a comprehensive tool that describes multiple facetsof the outcome to be assessed. The performance indicators of each rubric were built in view of theperformance indicators of each engineering course in the program. Each outcome specific rubric wasagreed upon the faculty and calibrated on a “senior” level of intellectual maturity. The assignments weredesigned specifically to satisfy each dimension of the rubric and consisted in questions or problemspresented to the students in midterms and final exams/projects. The four levels of the rubrics are:Unsatisfactory, Marginal, Satisfactory, and Outstanding. We set the goal of the program to have allstudents at a satisfactory level at the time of graduation. Having a rubric calibrated at “senior level” wefound that most of the outcomes at the formative level reach a marginal outcome. This was expected asthe idea is to observe if there exist learning trends between formative and summative levels whereconcepts are introduced, internalized and reinforced.

Piovesan, D., & Vernaza, K. M. (2015, June), Formative vs. Summative ABET Assessment: A Comprehensive Graphic Representation for a New BME Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24127

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