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Implementing An Integrated System For Program Assessment And Improvement

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.321.1 - 3.321.6



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Stephen J. Ressler

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Thomas Lenox

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Session 2513

Implementing an Integrated System for Program Assessment and Improvement

Stephen J. Ressler, Thomas A. Lenox United States Military Academy

INTRODUCTION Criterion 2 of the ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 requires that, to gain accreditation, an engineering program must have: (a) detailed published educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution and [ABET] criteria, (b) a process based on the needs of the program’s various constituencies in which the objectives are determined and periodically evaluated, (c) a curriculum and process that ensures the achievement of these objectives, and (d) a system of ongoing evaluation that demonstrates achievement of these objectives and uses the results to improve the effectiveness of the program.1 In this paper, we describe an integrated program assessment model, developed in direct response to the requirement for “a system of ongoing evaluation” specified in Criterion 2(d) above. The model has been implemented successfully through two annual assessment cycles in the ABET- accredited civil engineering program at the United States Military Academy, West Point. For the purpose of this paper, we assume that program objectives have already been formulated, consistent with Criterion 2(a) and (b) above, and that appropriate assessment tools are available to measure the achievement of these objectives. For a discussion of our own program objectives and assessment tools, see Reference 2.

THE PROGRAM ASSESSMENT MODEL Our program assessment model is an annual cycle, consisting of a systematic assessment of every course in the program, followed by an assessment of the program as a whole. The annual cycle is illustrated in Figure 1. The large yellow arrow represents one annual iteration of the Program. Within the program, a series of courses (represented by the black arrows designated Course A, Course B, and Course C) run concurrently. On an annual basis, each individual course is the subject of a formal COURSE ASSESSMENT. The principal purposes of this event are to measure how well the course is accomplishing its objectives, to determine if the course objectives contribute appropriately to the program objectives, and to generate appropriate course changes (indicated by the innermost “feedback loops” in Figure 1). Course assessment results also serve as input to an annual PROGRAM ASSESSMENT, the first of two program-level assessment activities. The program assessment measures how well the program is accomplishing its objectives, determines if the program objectives contribute appropriately to the institutional goals, and generates internal program changes—global modifications to the program that are within the authority of the program director to change. The program assessment also serves to

Ressler, S. J., & Lenox, T. (1998, June), Implementing An Integrated System For Program Assessment And Improvement Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7173

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