The Chemical Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering degree programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET: http://www.abet.org. As part of the accreditation process, the department’s Continuous Improvement Policy outlines the procedures in place that ensure the implementation of feedback at multiple levels. The policy is based on the collection and evaluation of several types of course and student data followed by recommendations and changes at the course and curriculum level by the department’s Undergraduate Education Advisory Council (UEAC) to guarantee a high quality engineering education.
As a framework for the Continuous Improvement Policy, the department has adopted a set of Program Educational Objectives which describe the anticipated accomplishments of our graduates 3-5 years after graduation, and Program Outcomes which outline the abilities of our students at the time of graduation, for each of the two B.S. degree programs. Student Outcomes stem from the Program Educational Objectives and the Student Outcomes are satisfied when the individual course outcomes are met.
The Assessment Cycle
The ABET accreditation process is a six-year cycle. Each of the core courses for each of the two degrees is evaluated once every three years such that in every ABET cycle each course is reviewed twice. The flow chart below summarizes the outcomes assessment process, which is discussed in detail below.
(An asterisk denotes a necessary action by the course instructor)
While the Course is Held...
The course-level assessment cycle begins when the course is held. In preparing for the course, the course instructor takes into account the recommendations that the Undergraduate (UG) Committee has compiled in the Annual Assessment Report from the year before (“Course- and Instructor-Specific Feedback Provided to Instructor”). Note that each course undergoes a thorough review every three years (course review schedule) so each year there is a detailed report for only about a third of the core courses. Less detailed information regarding other aspects of general feedback (FCQ results, surveys, teaching committee evaluations, and student feedback) is provided in the Annual Assessment Report for the other two thirds of the core courses. The procedures detailed here are for courses undergoing the 3-year detailed course reviews. Within the first week of the course, the course instructor is required to submit a Course Plan document. This document outlines basic information about the course and defines the outcomes that will be assessed. Specific program outcomes have already been assigned to each course (see Course Assessment Matrices: CHEN, CBEN). Examples of assessment measures corresponding to each of the program outcomes include homework questions, exam questions, projects, written reports, ethics case studies, etc). Along with the Course Plan document are several (3-5, usually one per program outcome) Outcome Assessment Forms outlining the course instructor’s plan for assessing each of the program outcomes. Only Part A of each Outcome Assessment Form is due to the Assessment Coordinator at the beginning of the semester. Sample student work (low/medium/high) for each of these assessment measures must accompany each of the Outcome Assessment Forms. Note that while only sample work must be submitted, every student’s performance on each particular assessment measure (homework problem, test question, section of a report, etc) must be assessed according to a standardized rubric.
In addition to the specific measures that assess the extent to which the course-specific program outcomes are met, the course instructor must collect sample student work (low/medium/high) for each major assignment in the course. These assignments include homework, exams, reports, slides/notes from oral presentations, and lab notebooks. The course teaching assistants are strongly encouraged to participate in this process. At the conclusion of the semester, each course instructor is required to submit sample student work (student names and identification numbers removed) along with copies of any course learning material (class notes, reading quizzes, tutorials, anything else used in the course) in an organized binder to the Assessment Coordinator. It is the responsibility of the course instructor, not the Assessment Coordinator, to have all material collected and delivered in a concise, organized fashion.
Course Summary and Improvement
At the completion of the semester, the course instructor finalizes Part B of all Outcome Assessment Forms. Subsequently, a Course Summary and Improvement Form (CSIF) is completed by the course instructor. This form summarizes pertinent information such as grade distribution for the course, weighted grade point, faculty course questionnaire (FCQ) results, course instructor perception of how well they felt they taught the course outcomes, modifications to the course as a result of previous assessment measures, positive and negative reflections on the course, and course modifications that will be implemented the next time the instructor teaches the course. FCQ results usually are not available until 4-6 weeks after the conclusion of the semester. However, the course instructor must submit a preliminary version of the CSIF to the Assessment Coordinator within two weeks of the conclusion of the course.
The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences administers several surveys each year and the data generated from these surveys are extremely valuable. Surveys that are used for assessment purposes include:
The Freshman Survey provides unique information about the freshman experience. The Senior Survey provides invaluable information related to the abilities of our students at the time of graduation and this information relates directly to our program outcomes. The Post-Graduate Survey provides unique information related to our whereabouts of graduates within 6-9 months of graduation. This information is particularly useful when looking at job placement. Four years after graduation, the Alumni Survey is administered to our graduates. In many respects, this survey is the most important for evaluating the overall mission and objectives of our B.S. programs since it provides direct data related to the whereabouts of our students. In addition, alumni have the opportunity to provide constructive criticism of our programs and what we can do to further improve our program in preparing graduates for engineering careers. Every 3 years, the Employer Survey is sent to employers of our graduates and provides data related to how well our students have been prepared for their career, as well as suggestions on how our graduates can be better prepared for the workplace.
The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam is a standardized exam administered to students across the nation. While the exam is not required of our students, we strongly encourage them to take the exam and the department pays a portion of the exam fee. The results of the FE Exam are very important because they show how our students perform on a standardized exam and the results also indicate how well our students do compared to other students in chemical and/or biological engineering across the nation. Results of the FE Exam can be used to address shortcomings in our curriculum by providing direct evidence that one or more of our course outcomes is not being met.
Undergraduate Education Advisory Council
The Undergraduate Education Advisory Council (UEAC) is a diverse external group of alumni and employers that meets at least once a year to review the undergraduate curriculum. In addition, current undergraduate students are present for the UEAC meetings. The UEAC also periodically reviews Program Objectives and Program Outcomes to make sure they are consistent with what should be expected of a chemical and biological engineering department. Once a year, a third of the core courses of the CHEN and CBEN curricula are extensively reviewed. Students who have taken these courses recently are encouraged to attend in order to provide course- and instructor-specific feedback.
Members Present at the Spring 2011 Review
A departmental Teaching Committee exists that evaluates the teaching ability and effectiveness of junior faculty. Once a semester, the Teaching Committee attends the classes of each of the junior faculty to report on and provide feedback for that particular course. In addition, the Teaching Committee periodically meets with students in each of these courses in the absence of the instructor to informally survey students to provide constructive feedback to each junior faculty member.
UG Committee Review Process and Annual Assessment Report
At the conclusion of each spring semester, the Undergraduate (UG) Committee meets to discuss the results of the assessment measures, including survey results, Course Summary and Improvement Forms, Teaching Committee findings, and UEAC course reviews. The courses that are discussed are not necessarily the courses undergoing the detailed, once-in-three-years evaluation. As a result of these assessment measures and findings, the UG Committee prepares an Annual Assessment Report. A version of the Annual Assessment Report is available on the College’s Assessment website. The Annual Assessment Report summarizes the state of the undergraduate curriculum and provides both course-specific recommendations to be taken into account by course instructors as well as other suggestions relating to the program objectives and outcomes as a whole.