DEPARTMENTS & OFFICES
ASSESSMENT OF PROGRAM-WIDE STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGINEERING
Assessment of Program-Wide Student Learning Outcomes in the Department of Engineering
The undergraduate Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering majors in the Department of Engineering are currently accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology - Engineering Accreditation Council (ABET-EAC). This specialty accreditation was first granted to RMU in August, 2004 and it was renewed in July, 2010 through September 30, 2016.
ABET-EAC accreditation, like other subject-specific accreditations, has very specific and stringent requirements for the measurement of student learning outcomes. ABET-EAC identifies these learning outcomes and specifies that they must be taught, and assessed, throughout a student's coursework in an accredited program. The burden of proof is put upon the Department of Engineering to insure that it is in compliance with this critical accreditation requirement. The Department must also have convincing proof that it is assessing these outcomes and making curricular improvements on the basis of the findings from the assessment program.
ABET-EAC-accredited engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain:
The Department of Engineering has implemented a comprehensive system of measurement in order to measure how effectively its students are mastering the eleven attributes set forth above. Other, more specific, ABET-prescribed outcomes apply to individual concentrations or majors within the Department. This system, originally devised at Ohio Northern University, requires instruction and assessment of multiple ABET-EAC learning outcomes in every course in the Engineering Curriculum. Specific sections of examinations or other in-course student assignments are dedicated to the assessment of one or more of the eleven ABET-prescribed outcomes in each course in the Department.
- an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
- an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
- an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
- an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
- an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
- an ability to communicate effectively
- the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
- a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
- a knowledge of contemporary issues
- an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
Each Engineering faculty member prepares a report for each course taught that summarizes student performance on the assessments dedicated to ABET-EAC-prescribed learning outcomes. The Department has established a standard regarding student performance on these assessments: it is deemed "attained" if 80% of their students score 80% or better on an ABET-related assessment. The departmental faculty review all of these reports at the end of each semester to assess overall student performance on the ABET-EAC prescribed learning outcomes. If cumulative performance on all ABET-related assessments falls below an overall threshold of 80% then there is grounds for remedial action.
The Department has now collected course assessment results for seven semesters beginning with Spring 2004. The composite results of the FCAR assessment process are summarized in an Excel table that is reviewed by the Department's administration and faculty. In all, 26 engineering courses have been assessed. A total of 432 separate assessments of the 11 ABET Derived outcomes were made and 113 assessments of concentration-specific outcomes reported.
The results from the FCAR assessments are very encouraging. Outcome J (knowledge of contemporary issues) was the single outcome which failed to reach the 80% criteria. The Department noted acceptable assessments 76% of the time across all five semesters for this area of student learning.
The assessment findings are discussed at weekly faculty meetings and instructors share ideas on how to improve course delivery as well as assessment strategies. Professors teaching courses for the first time can draw upon the recommendations made previously for course improvement. Overall the process appears to be resulting in better student achievement and continuous improvement of course delivery.