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Simplifying Assessment Using Direct Measures

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Program Criteria, Assessment, and Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1294.1 - 22.1294.13



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Paper Authors


Ronald W. Welch University of Texas, Tyler

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Ron Welch is Professor and Head, Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Tyler. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. Until January 2, 2007, Ron was an Academy Professor at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). Ron received a B.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics from the USMA in 1982 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1990 and 1999, respectively.

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Simplifying Assessment Using Direct MeasuresAlmost everyone has heard or read somewhere that to complete quality assessment aprogram must use multiple assessment methods, and furthermore that indirect measuressuch as surveys cannot be the only source of assessment. These types of issues bring upchallenging questions. How many assessment methods are enough? What is the requireddepth for each assessment method? What direct measures are best for your program? Thispaper will provide some insight into choosing direct measures and how they have beenused by one program.There are many reasons for a program to use multiple assessment methods to providemultiple view points for each program outcome. One important aspect is to properlydisplay trends in performance that necessitate program changes. Although surveys are aneasy assessment method, their low rates of return and other issues mean that they are notparticularly effective instruments to drive program improvement in this way. Mostprograms have turned to multiple direct measures to ensure they can properlydemonstrate their student’s accomplishment of an outcome. The direct measurespresented in this paper are: embedded indicators, capstone (point allocation), externalexam (FE), and internal exam (gateway). This paper will also present the lessons learnedby one program through the 4 years of using these direct measures and the program’ssuccess in reducing the work and data collected as well as the superb ABET visit resultsbased on using these methods (no deficiencies or weaknesses at the end of the on-campusABET visit). This paper will also present the current program efforts to further reduce theassessment data collected and time required to the irreducible minimum.

Welch, R. W. (2011, June), Simplifying Assessment Using Direct Measures Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18397

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