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Performance Assessment For Civil Engineering Curriculum

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Accreditation and Assessment Concerns in Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.975.1 - 13.975.9



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Paper Authors


Jean-Pierre Bardet University of Southern California

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Jean-Pierre Bardet is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chair of the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.

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Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Gisele Ragusa is Associate Professor of Clinical Education, and Director of Undergraduate and Teacher Education Programs at the Rossier School of Education of the University of Southern California. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Her research interests and areas of expertise include: teacher education and retention, literacy education, teacher education supervision, multimedia literacy, early childhood special education, deaf education, as well as bilingual elementary teacher education.

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Fred Meyer United States Military Academy

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Colonel Karl F. (Fred) Meyer is an Associate Professor and Civil Engineering Program Director
in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy
(USMA) at West Point, NY. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. COL Meyer
received a B.S. degree from USMA in 1984, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering
from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1993 and 2002.

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

Performance Assessment for Civil Engineering Curriculum


The accreditation of engineering education programs by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires the direct assessment of student’s learning to ensure they meet the requirements of particular program outcomes. Past attempts of measuring student’s learning in Civil Engineering have largely relied on a few isolated data points and unreliable satisfaction surveys. Hereafter the authors propose a systematic approach for directly assessing the student performance across an entire program which includes the current ABET requirement as well as the Body of Knowledge (BOK) of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE). The approach is based on embedded signature assessments and concept inventories, which originate from the field of educational psychology. These direct assessment methods lead to quantitative assessments of student performance without dramatically increasing faculty work load and generating tedious data collection; they enhance what is typically accomplished in the evaluation and grading of student work. The greatest benefit of using embedded signatures and concept inventories is to provide a rapid, multi-factored, quantitative assessment, and to provide instructors and administrators with the immediate, comprehensive feedback they need to promptly address student needs. This relatively simple yet thorough assessment process enables administrators to devote time to curriculum improvements instead of collecting and compiling assessment data with limited application focus. The performance methodology, although tested in this particular case with Civil Engineering, is applicable to other fields of Engineering.


In response to the requirements of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for assessing the performance of students in Civil Engineering in relation to particular program outcomes, many educational institutions have developed assessment methods based on satisfaction surveys, senior-level capstone design courses, and Engineer-in-Training examinations. In the past, assessors have struggled to find realistic and acceptable ways to assess student achievements across entire programs so that they meet ABET requirements as well as other professional recommendations, e.g., the Body of Knowledge3 (BOK) of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE). Many institutions have painfully realized that the assessments of student learning performance can result in dramatically increasing faculty work load and generating time- consuming data collection with uncertain results.

Inspired by past work on student’s assessment7, the objective of the paper is to explore the application of concepts originating from the field of educational psychology to engineering education, and to propose efficient and effective ways to assess student learning performance.

Bardet, J., & Ragusa, G., & Meyer, F. (2008, June), Performance Assessment For Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3775

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