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Outcomes Assessment Measures

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.345.1 - 1.345.7

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Joseph A. Shaeiwitz

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2313

Outcomes Assessment Measures

Joseph A. Shaeiwitz West Virginia University

Most engineering departments are now or soon will be required to have a working assessment plan as part of their ABET accreditation. In this paper, the principles of assessment are summarized. The assessment plan in the Department of Chemical Engineering at West Virginia University is used as an example of how a plan can be developed and implemented. Suggestions for how to implement an assessment plan are also presented.

Principles of Assessment

The term assessment is generally used in two contexts. Summative assessment (usually just called assessment) is what an institution may use to make decisions about global learning outcomes, resource allocation, and accountability. The assessment is usually a formal process and consists of documentation that students completing degree programs have the knowledge and/or skills required of their degree program. The audience for summative assessment is usually external to the department or university. Formative assessment (often called classroom assessment) involves continuous, oflen informal, assessment of student learning with the expressed purpose of improving teaching and learning within a specific course or curriculum. The audience for formative assessment is usually within a department or the instructor in a specific class. The elements of classroom assessment are described in detail elsewherc?~s.

A well-founded assessment plan has three components. The first is a statement of educational goals. It is necessary to define exactly what is expected of students. The second is a valid set of measures of achievement of these goals. As in any good experimental design, multiple measures are best. The third, and perhaps the most important and difficult component, is use of the information gathered in order to correct and improve the educational process.

In order to develop an assessment plan, educational goals must be defined. It is necessary to define what knowledge and skills students should be possessed by students completing a degree program.

Next, and more difhcult, is developing valid measures of the goals. A single measure is neither sufllcient nor desirable. One possible measure is a standardized test like the FE Exam. For example, the cornerstone of the assessment plan in the University of Tennessee system is testin~~s. Another measure of learning outcomes could be senior, capstone experiences or professional field experience. By carefhlly designing and monitoring these experiences, student learning as well as the ability to apply knowledge in a new context can be assessed. Yet another assessment method is appropriately designed questionnaires. These could be post-graduate, follow-up questionnaires, sent to graduates (and possibly employers) two to three years after graduation. The questionnaires focus on the graduate’s preparation for the challenges of a

~~xij 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings +3&..?

Shaeiwitz, J. A. (1996, June), Outcomes Assessment Measures Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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