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June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
The ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC/ABET) General Criteria 3 and 5 were recently updated for the first time in two decades and went into effect in the 2019-20 review cycle. The previous major revision of the General Criteria was to adopt an outcomes-based approach, as specified in EC 2000. At this time, there appear to be no formal plans or processes for periodic review of the new EAC/ABET General Criteria 3 and 5. Criterion 2 requires systematic and periodic review of the Program Educational Objectives, consistent with the needs of the program’s constituencies; and Criterion 4 promotes the use of regular processes for continuous improvement of the program. Given the focus on continuous improvement in the General Criteria and considering rapid changes in the engineering profession and in the educational landscape, it would seem reasonable that the EAC/ABET General Criteria should also undergo systematic and periodic review, with particular attention to the needs of the EAC’s constituencies. From the authors’ perspective, the most recent revisions of EAC/ABET General Criteria 3 and 5 were compromised by a flawed development process. The organization charged with researching and formulating the criteria changes was an internal subcommittee of the EAC Criteria Committee. The subcommittee would have benefitted from including expertise of scholars, experts, and practitioners across the profession. And the subcommittee’s charge was an essentially backward-looking requirement “to clarify outcomes that historically programs had difficulty assessing, allow for more efficient assessment processes, emphasize applications in an engineering context, and add some elements of project management.” Consequently, the subcommittee missed a significant opportunity to address the future needs of the engineering profession. Based on these observations, the authors propose a modified process for formulating future changes to Criteria 3 and 5. Our recommended process is characterized by: (1) the establishment of a long-term schedule of systematic criteria changes, planned and implemented on a regular, predictable cycle; (2) for each scheduled criteria change, the establishment of a stand-alone task committee, external to the EAC and incorporating appropriate experts and representatives of the EAC’s constituencies; and (3) a task committee charge that emphasizes scholarly research to determine the future needs of the engineering profession, rigorous analysis, collaborative decision-making, and thorough documentation and communication of work products. The most important feature of this proposal is the predictability of the review cycle, which will facilitate planning for, and managing, changes in programs and curricula, supporting the long-term improvement of engineering programs By way of example, one ABET member society, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), has adopted a recurring eight-year cycle for review and revision of the Civil Engineering Program Criteria, with well-defined stages for developing background material and engaging community stakeholders. The ABET EAC criteria committee comprises representatives from member societies including ASCE, IEEE, ASME, AAEES, and others. In support of this paper, data were gathered from these societies about their current and future plans for Program Criteria review.
Delatte, N., & Ressler, S. J., & Morse, A. N., & Saviz, C. M., & Barry, B. E. (2020, June), Toward Continuous Improvement of EAC/ABET Criteria 3 and 5 Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35394
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