Evaluating the Satisfaction of ABET Student Outcomes from Course Learning Outcomes through a Software Implementation

Evaluating the Satisfaction of ABET Student Outcomes from Course Learning Outcomes through a Software Implementation

Muhammad Hasan Imam (Umm Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia) and Imran A. Tasadduq (Umm Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2012070102
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Continuous improvement procedure to attain a certain level of program satisfaction is mainly based on the evaluation of ABET Student Outcomes (SOs) satisfaction in various courses. The satisfaction of a given SO is indicated by percentage of students obtaining a prescribed level of success in direct assessments. It is difficult for average instructors to design reliable assessments addressing the SOs because their focus in teaching is on Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) that are related directly to the subject matter. To resolve this issue, a simple approach is presented to convert CLO-based assessment data to SO-based data through the CLO-SO map and a conversion formula. A software package “CLOSO” developed to implement this idea is described. The software automates the evaluation of CLO and SO satisfaction thereby enhancing the reliability of assessment data and saving instructor’s time significantly and generates summary reports for ABET course files.
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A program leading to bachelor or master degree in engineering is based on a set of “Program Educational Objectives” (PEOs) consistent with the mission of the institution. PEOs describe career and professional accomplishments expected from the graduates within a few years after graduation (ABET, http://www.abet.org). To prepare the students so that they can achieve the PEOs, ABET accreditation process requires assessment and evaluation of a prescribed set of “Student Outcomes” (SOs). SOs describe the general abilities the students will acquire by the time of graduation. For ABET accreditation, the curriculum is designed so that the students achieve these outcomes through various courses. ABET accreditation “Criterion 3” requires that students demonstrate the attainment of eleven different SOs. These SOs are listed in Table 1. These outcomes may be modified or additional outcomes may be introduced to suit a particular program but most commonly the eleven SOs of ABET Criterion 3 are used without any modification.

Table 1.
Student outcomes
Engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain the following outcomes:
     a. An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
     b. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
     c. 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
     d. An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
     e. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
     f. An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
     g. An ability to communicate effectively
     h. The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
     i. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
     j. A knowledge of contemporary issues
     k. An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

While SOs represent a set of general abilities to be attained by the students, the “Course Learning Outcomes” (CLOs) specified for all courses in a curriculum are specific to the content of the course and describe the course-related abilities students will acquire at the end of a course. It is essential that CLOs are distinct, non-overlapping and targeted to specific course-related skill levels (Felder & Brent, 2004). They also must be measurable through direct assessments. The questions asked in direct assessments like quizzes, homework and examinations, always target one or more of the CLOs. Table 2 shows an example of CLOs for a course.

Table 2.
Example of course learning outcomes
A student who successfully fulfills the course requirements will have demonstrated:
     1. An understanding of basic computer arithmetic algorithms
     2. An ability to implement multi-cycle implementations of a computer instruction set
     3. An ability to analyze a pipelined CPU
     4. An ability to analyze and evaluate CPU and memory hierarchy performance
     5. An ability to write programs in MIPS

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