The true benefits of accreditation lie in the ongoing process of assessment that lays the foundation for programmatic success. The program assessment planning process is related to the following ABET Accreditation Criteria:
- ABET Criterion 2: Program Educational Objectives
- ABET Criterion 3: Student Outcomes
- ABET Criterion 4: Continuous Improvement
1. ESTABLISH PURPOSE (MISSION STATEMENT) AND SET GOALS (TIMELINE)
Assessment planning begins with the institutional mission statement, which describes the communities that are served and the institutional purposes and other characteristics that define your institution. At the same time, your institution’s assessment leader should work with an appropriate mix of faculty and administrators to develop a plan of action and timeline to ensure departmental assessment goals and deadlines are met.
2. DEFINE/REFINE PROGRAM EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES AND STUDENT OUTCOMES
Program educational objectives are based on the needs of the program’s constituencies and are expressed in broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years of graduation. Student outcomes relate to the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that students acquire as they progress through the program and describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. Defining educational objectives and student outcomes provides faculty with a common understanding of the expectations for student learning and supports consistency across the curriculum, as measured by performance indicators. Performance indicators represent the knowledge, skills, attitudes or behavior students should be able to demonstrate by the time of graduation that indicate competence related to the outcome.
3. DESIGN AND CONDUCT ASSESSMENTS
Assessments offer a framework through which you can identify, collect, and prepare data to evaluate the attainment of student outcomes and program educational objectives. Effective assessments use relevant direct, indirect, quantitative, and qualitative measures appropriate to the outcome or objective being measured. Appropriate sampling methods may be used as part of an assessment process.
Efficient and effective assessment strategies require an understanding of the alignment between educational practices and strategies. This can be accomplished by mapping educational strategies (which could include co-curricular activities) to learning outcomes. Strategies for data collection and analysis need to be systematic and consistent, and focus on assessment related to the performance indicators.
4. EVALUATE ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
Evaluation processes interpret the data and evidence accumulated through the assessment process and determine the extent to which student outcomes and program educational objectives are being attained. Thoughtful evaluation of findings is essential to ensure that decisions and actions taken as a result of the assessment process will lead to program improvement.
5. USE RESULTS FOR DECISION MAKING
Assessment provides a framework for a meaningful feedback process, which is critical to strategic decision-making. Creating and maintaining an ongoing quality assurance system helps to keep your program relevant to the professions it serves, supports the highest quality student experience, and confirms that your graduates are well prepared for their careers.
We offer a wide array of resources to assist you in assessment planning, including webinars, articles and tools, and assessment-focused events.