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On Quality Assurance Mechanisms in Engineering Education: A Case Study of Purdue University

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Program-Level Assessments for Multidisciplinary Areas

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Ming Li Tsinghua University

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Ming LI is a postdoctor at the Institute of Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing, PRC. He received B.A. in Qingdao Agricultural University, M.Ed. in Shandong Normal University, and Doctor of Management in Beihang University. From March 2013 to June 2013, he studied in School of Engineering Education at Purdue University as a visiting scholar. He is interested in higher education administration as well as engineering education. Now his research interest focuses on the quality assurance in higher education, particularly quality assurance in engineering education.

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Quality assurance in engineering education plays an increasingly important role in cultivating engineering talents around the world. The ABET EC2000 reform, in particular, has had a range of different impacts on U.S. universities and colleges as they work to meet accreditation standards. For example, large research-oriented universities with strong quality assurance cultures may pay more attention to setting up internal quality assurance systems at multiple levels. It is necessary to explore and discuss how such universities establish their own internal quality assurance mechanisms to continuously promote quality improvement, while also meeting accreditation requirements. This paper uses Purdue University as a case study of these processes. As valuable background information, relevant global literatures on quality assurance in engineering education are first reviewed in this paper. Then, the quality assurance mechanisms in engineering education at one university are then more deeply analyzed and presented based on data from interviews with 10 key stakeholders involved with ABET accreditation at Purdue. The stakeholders were interviewed using a semi-structured protocol which elicited their concrete experiences of preparing for ABET accreditation, as well as their attitudes towards quality assurance in engineering education. All stakeholders were also asked to share their views about other internal quality assurance mechanisms and current efforts to assure the quality of engineering education. The interviews were systematically analyzed using qualitative coding procedures, including inductive and deductive coding. The main data analysis tool was NVivo 11. This paper finds that Purdue, as a research-oriented university, has set up a relatively well-integrated internal quality assurance system of engineering education which includes at least three types of mechanisms: self-evaluation mechanism coping with external evaluation from ABET, self-evaluation mechanism to facilitate daily management for faculty and students, and formative evaluation mechanism to promote continuous quality improvement. While the case of Purdue University represents only one university among many different universities and colleges, it is important for researchers to further explore how quality assurance mechanisms are established in various types of higher learning institutes, both in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, this paper proposes a basic procedure for gathering data from other relevant stakeholders, including students, faculty, parents and employers. The paper concludes with a discussion of quality assurance approaches and mechanisms in cross-national, comparative perspective, with particular focus on U.S. and Chinese contexts of engineering education.

Li, M. (2017, June), On Quality Assurance Mechanisms in Engineering Education: A Case Study of Purdue University Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28716

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