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Preparing For Abet 2000: Assessment At The Classroom Level

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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

3.454.1 - 3.454.21



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Paper Authors

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Stefani A. Bjorklund

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Patrick T. Terenzini

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John M. Parente

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Alberto F. Cabrera

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

Session Number 2630

Preparing for ABET 2000: Assessment at the Classroom Level

Patrick T. Terenzini Alberto F. Cabrera John M. Parente Stefani A. Bjorklund The Pennsylvania State University

The nature of the classroom experience has recently regained recognition as one of the most significant factors influencing college students’ cognitive and affective development. While knowledge of the role of classroom experiences is extensive in general education (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991), the influences of these experiences among engineering students is as yet little understood. The absence of such information presents colleges and schools of engineering with major problems. Industry and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) are bringing increasing pressure on engineering schools to produce graduates who are prepared to engage in unstructured problem solving and to work in groups. ABET is also moving to an assessment-based reaccreditation review process, requiring institutions to produce evidence that their programs “prepare graduates for the practice of engineering at a professional level” (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, 1997, p. 41).

This paper reports the results of a project that developed and validated a measure of classroom activities and student learning outcomes among undergraduate students enrolled in engineering courses. The measure was pilot tested at six of the seven colleges of engineering that make up the Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Education and Leadership (ECSEL). With support from the National Science Foundation, ECSEL has sought (among its several goals) to enhance undergraduate engineering students’ learning through the introduction and diffusion of design throughout the undergraduate engineering curriculum on their campuses. The fundamental question examined in this study was whether design activities (including working in teams; unstructured, practical, problem-solving activities; the hands-on application of scientific and engineering theory and principles to real- world problems, and extensive, active student involvement in the teaching-learning process) are any more effective in developing students’ engineering skills than are more traditional and widespread instructional practices, such as lectures and discussions.


To address that question, the ECSEL evaluation group at the Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) at the Pennsylvania State University developed the “Classroom Activities and Outcomes Survey.” This pencil-and-paper, multiple-choice questionnaire was pilot-tested at the end of the Spring, 1997 semester. Because this data collection was a pilot test for a larger, more systematic assessment planned for Spring, 1998, participating courses and students were not randomly selected. Each campus’s local evaluator was asked to identify at


Bjorklund, S. A., & Terenzini, P. T., & Parente, J. M., & Cabrera, A. F. (1998, June), Preparing For Abet 2000: Assessment At The Classroom Level Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7354

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