Assessment: How Much Is Too Much Or How Much Is Enough?
2002 Annual Conference Proceedings
IUPUI) has offered ABET accredited programs since 1984. The Department went through another accreditation visit in the Fall 2000 and was accredited for all of its programs till the next visit. Despite the comfort and reassurance this has provided, we have not lost sight of the fact that the next round of accreditation, based on ABET 2000 criteria for Technology (TC2K), will be challenging. Consequently, the Department is continuing its assessment work at full speed with the understanding that
... nderstanding that we need to do assessment and implement continuous improvement for the next six years if we want to keep our status. Notwithstanding this continuing effort though, we are struggling with the question of what exactly needs to be assessed, how much, and is it possible to do it too much? Considering that assessment is really taking a toll on the scarcest resource of academic departments, faculty time, the question is a valid one. Since all faculty in our programs are technical professionals, it is in our nature to try to optimize everything we do and we are looking for a benefit/cost ratio that is feasible and defendable in this case too. Even though the PSET houses a number of engineering and technology departments most of which are ABET accredited, there is no consensus or uniformity in terms of how to do assessment and how much. As a result some departments have opted to assess selected courses, some are assessing select courses plus a senior capstone course, some are assessing all courses, some are using comprehensive exams or portfolios, and some are using combinations of above in addition to the usual surveys, exit interviews, and such. As a result, the question lingers in terms of are we doing enough or are we doing too much. The question is more than academic in nature in the sense that significant resources or reputations are at stake. This paper will focus on what the Department of Construction Technology intends to do in specific for its ABET assessment. Our plan is that our assessment will essentially entail assessment at several levels as a combination of assessing all courses plus a capstone course, exit exams and surveys, and involving the Industry Advisory Board in the process. The paper will also detail the total spectrum for different kinds of assessment activities being undertaken by different departments from the perspective of showing the wide range and scope. It is hoped that the presentation will lead to a lively discussion as to what is enough and what is too much and maybe bring out what the feelings are on this issue on the part of different administrators. For developing the Department assessment plan we identify five constituencies that benefit from our programs: the students, the faculty, industry, the community, and the profession. In parallel with this, the vision statement, the mission statement, and the goals and objectives of the Department of Construction Technology were developed through a very participative process involving the three Industrial Advisory Boards for all programs, students, and faculty, taking care to ensure conformity of these with the School and University missions. For sake of brevity these have not been included here. The second step was establishing the Specific Educational Objectives in conformity with the objectives by the University (IUPUI) in terms of what is called Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PUL) and the ABET objectives, a-k, as our accrediting body. The PUL objectives are mainly: · Core Communication and Quantitative skills (such as writing, reading, speaking, listening, quantitative analysis, and use of information technology); · Critical Thinking (a sophisticated cognitive process involving the careful examination of ideas and information from multiple perspectives in order to clarify and improve understanding, and to develop ideas that are unique, useful, and worthy of further elaboration); · Integration and Application of Knowledge (articulation and application of concepts or constructs from two or more disciplinary areas to personal, academic, professional, or community activities); and · Intellectual Depth, Breadth, and Adaptiveness (the ability to examine, organize, and apply disciplinary ways of knowing to specific issues); · Understanding Society and its Culture (the ability to place one's own cultural traditions in a broader human context). The ABET objectives, a-k, are well known to the reader and are not repeated here. The Department has made sure that each syllabus specifically stated which of the PUL and ABET objectives were being addressed, as well as, making clear what the specific course objectives were in terms of the area of the course. As the third step, a schedule according to which different things will be assessed was agreed on as shown below: Assessment Schedule