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Three Approaches To Outcomes Assessment: Questionnaires, Protocols, And Empirical Modeling

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.440.1 - 2.440.11



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Paper Authors

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Mary E. Besterfield-Sacre

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Larry J. Shuman

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Cynthia Atman

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Harvey Wolfe

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

Session 2230

Three Approaches To Outcomes Assessment: Questionnaires, Protocols, and Empirical Modelinga

Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Larry J. Shuman, Cynthia J. Atman, and Harvey Wolfe University of Texas - El Paso/University of Pittsburghb

Engineering is a multi-dimensional discipline. Practicing engineers must possess a variety of knowledge and skills to be successful in the workplace. Now, ABET, through “EAC 2000” has classified these into eleven categories1. ABET’s new performance-based criteria require each engineering program’s faculty to clearly enunciate educational objectives in terms of a diverse set of knowledge and skills. Further, the faculty must demonstrate that the program’s graduates are, in fact, acquiring these knowledge and skills, and, where deficiencies exist, they are being cor- rected. This is a substantial challenge, which requires a comprehensive evaluation system. Clearly, an effective engineering education evaluation program must be multi-faceted, employing an array of methodologies which measure a variety of outcomes, and provide the requisite feed- back for making programmatic improvements. We discuss three approaches to outcomes as- sessment that we are developing and testing. We then describe how these assessment approaches can be integrated into a formal evaluation program. These methods involve questionnaires about attitudes (freshmen and alumni), verbal protocol analysis, and empirical modeling. Each method has different objectives, and therefore serves a different purpose in a well-rounded evaluation program. The advantages and disadvantages of each method, as well as their integration are dis- cussed. Introduction

We are addressing the crucial problem of demonstrating that engineering students have received a quality education. What is a quality education? The American Society for Engineering Educa- tion’s (ASEE) blue ribbon report, Engineering Education for A Changing World2, proclaimed that “engineering education programs must not only teach the fundamentals of engineering the- ory, experimentation, and practice but be relevant, attractive and connected,” preparing students for a broad range of careers as well as for lifelong learning. The National Science Foundation’s complementary report, Restructuring Engineering Education: A Focus on Change3 has a similar theme: Engineering curricula should be broad and flexible, preparing students for both leader- ship and specialist roles in a variety of career areas. The National Research Council’s Board of Engineering Education4 has also recommended a number of actions for curriculum reform “including early exposure to ‘real’ engineering and more extensive exposure to interdisciplinary, hands-on, industrial practice aspects, teamwork, systems thinking and creative design.” The ASEE report argues that because “engineers now operate in a world where their accomplish- ments are often more limited by societal considerations than by technical capabilities, they are engaging in a wider range of activities throughout their professional lives.” Hence, today’s edu- cation must prepare students for this changing workplace, providing the “technical knowledge a This research work was made possible by National Science Foundation grants, DUE-9254271 and RED-9358516, as well as grants from the Ford Motor Company Fund, GE Fund, Westinghouse Foundation, and Xerox. b Drs. Shuman, Atman and Wolfe are with the University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Besterfield-Sacre is with the University of Texas - El Paso.

Besterfield-Sacre, M. E., & Shuman, L. J., & Atman, C., & Wolfe, H. (1997, June), Three Approaches To Outcomes Assessment: Questionnaires, Protocols, And Empirical Modeling Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6834

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