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Student Learning Assessment And The Abet Student Outcomes Criteria: "Good News/Bad News"

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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

1.396.1 - 1.396.4



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Gloria Rogers

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Session 2313

Student Learning Assessment and the ABET Student Outcomes Criteria: “Good News/Bad News”

Gloria Rogers Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


In recent years there has been criticism from the engineering education community of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation process. The criteria were often seen as fostering a “bean counting” process which did not allow for differences among programs and discouraged innovative approaches to engineering education. ABET has responded by undertaking a process which has led to the “drastic downsizing of the criteria and are-orientation of its accreditation philosophy. ”1 This has resulted in Engineering Criteria 2000 which has been published and distributed for review and comment for the next two years. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, few engineering colleges are prepared to deal with the challenge of providing evidence in a systematic way which validates student achievement in the areas defined by “Criterion 3. Program Outcomes. ” That’s the bad news. This paper will compare the previous ABET criteria to the new proposed criteria and illustrate a process which can be used in the development of a plan to assess student outcomes.

What has changed?

Afler examining the criteria which was developed for the 1996-97 accreditation cycle, a comparison was made with the proposed “Criteria 2000. ” Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between the current and proposed student outcomes criteria. Although not exhaustive, one can see that the basic expectations for student outcomes has not changed significantly. However, it is clear that what has changed is the focus of the process of accreditation. Figure 2 illustrates the basic differences which have been identified in the approach that ABET will be using to determine a program’s accreditation status. ABET is now putting the responsibility for developing the metrics used to determine student outcomes on the individual engineering program. This means that the assumption will no longer be that if an institution does certain things (i.e., checks off certain boxes) the outcomes will be assumed and the criteria met. Engineering programs will need to consider the following for each student outcome:

® what indicators will be used to define whether or not the outcomes are being achieved F what is being done to achieve the outcomes (e.g., classroom/laboratory practice or requirements) ® what assessment methods are being used

This will require each engineering program to have in place an assessment program that provides assessment for the evaluation of student outcomes.

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Rogers, G. (1996, June), Student Learning Assessment And The Abet Student Outcomes Criteria: "Good News/Bad News" Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6297

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