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Turning ABET Accreditation Review Into a Continuous Improvement Process

[+] Author Affiliations
Phillip R. White

University of Toledo

Paper No. IMECE2006-13591, pp. 267-272; 6 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 5 – 10, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4781-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3790-4
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


For many engineering programs, the assessment required for ABET accreditation results in little actual improvement in the educational program and is viewed by many faculty simply as a hurdle to be overcome to maintain accreditation. Particularly tedious is the assessment of the achievement of the ABET (a-k) program educational outcomes. One innovative approach to minimize the work involved in assessing the achievement of the (a-k) program educational outcomes is based on the establishment of course outcomes for each required course along with a mapping of the course outcomes to the (a-k) program educational outcomes. Course outcomes are the required topics that are to be covered in each required course and are the topics whose achievement are normally assessed through tests, homework, quizzes, reports and presentations. Collecting data on achievement of course outcomes places little additional burden on instructors because the data is readily available in grade records normally created for each course. The mapping of course outcomes to (a-k) program educational outcomes indicates which of the (a-k) outcomes each course outcome addresses. Therefore using the course outcome achievement data provided by each instructor from their grade records and the mapping of course outcomes to (a-k) program educational outcomes, the achievement of the (a-k) program educational outcomes by the entire curriculum can be relatively easily assessed. The process of establishing and assessing course outcomes not only addresses the assessment of achievement of the (a-k) program educational outcomes but it can also easily lead to continuous improvement of the curriculum. Continuous improvement can result when assessment is done periodically and the results are discussed by faculty groups responsible for each course. The establishment of course outcomes and their achievement assessment can lead to serious dialog about what is being taught in each course and the continuity between courses. Instruction and testing are more focused and improved because faculty know they must provide assessment data for each outcome. And finally the strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum as a whole are determined when the mapping is used to assess the overall achievement of the (a-k) program educational outcomes.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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