ABET

Module 6: Sample Situations

What would you decide? Try out these sample situations. What is the best response based on the information you are given?

A. Sample Situation 1: Technical University

Technical University applied for an initial accreditation visit and submitted a Request for Evaluation for three programs. Technical University previously requested assistance preparing for the review, and ABET provided names of persons who could serve as consultants to Technical University and its programs.

During the pre-visit review of the Self-Study, an issue was recognized regarding the general education component. While the technical content of all three four-year programs is very strong, the general education component of all three programs appears woefully lacking, and it is doubtful graduates are achieving the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.

In this nation, students complete 13 years of primary and secondary education, and the last year of high school covers advanced-level subjects. The faculty members claim in the Self-Study that it compares to AP credit in the United States. During pre-visit communications, the programs indicated that their previous consultant, whose name was provided by ABET, told them the students’ achievements in the last year of high school would be considered by the ABET team in the review.

Select the best program evaluator and team approach from the list below:

a. Contact the programs and institution, to let them know of the potential deficiency, and suggest they rescind their Request for Evaluation until they have graduates from each program after changes to include the required general education component. This action will save them costs for the review and will preclude a Not-to-Accredit action being on their record.

b. Contact the previous consultant and discuss the issue with him or her, ascertaining why he or she thought the last year in high school should be considered in the review.

c. Contact the programs and institution, asking for the process they use to assure what was learned during the last year of high school is effective in helping the program meet the criteria. Although the credit does not show on the transcript, treat the issue as transfer credit from another institution and evaluate accordingly. Also, ask if the programs accept incoming students with 12 years of primary and secondary education. If they do, ask how those students obtain the general education component from the program. If they do not accept incoming students with 12 years of primary and secondary education, ask for the written policy that prohibits acceptance of those students.

d. Contact the programs and institution and ask for the high school curricula typically taken by incoming students. Have the programs obtain descriptions of general education courses taken during the last year of high school for your review and evaluation. Additionally, have the programs obtain student work from those courses for your review and evaluation. And, have the programs make high school transcripts available for your review and evaluation.

Answer Key

a. While saving the institution money and helping to keep their ABET record clean are laudable, this action is rarely taken and almost never without an on campus visit and review to assure the team the shortcomings are severe and warrant such action.

b. This would not be appropriate. Even though ABET suggested names, ABET is not in the consultancy business with programs and institutions. The consultant will undoubtedly be an advocate for the programs and institution and any information he or she would provide could affect the independence of your review. Consider that the consultant has reviewed and, maybe, helped prepare the Self-Study.

c. This is the best alternative. If the program allows classes taken in the last year of high school to help it meet the criteria, there must be processes in place during application review and acceptance to assure incoming students have in fact taken those classes. If incoming students have not taken those classes, the program must provide courses for those students to achieve that learning.

d. All countries have standards for graduation from high school. All institutions of higher learning have minimum standards for acceptance of incoming students, directly from high school. While it is appropriate to review and evaluate the processes in place to assure those standards are being met, it is neither appropriate nor likely possible for the program to obtain high school curricula, course descriptions, and student work for your review and evaluation.

B. Sample Situation 2: Computing University

The visiting team completes the pre-visit review of the Self-Study materials for three programs at Computing University. All pre-visit communications with Computing University are routine and the team believes they are well informed and ready to provide a thorough on-site review of the Information Technology, Computer Science, and Information Sciences programs.

Upon arrival, the team learns the Information Technology and Information Sciences programs are offered only to men, and the Computer Science program is offered to both men and women, but in a segregated fashion. The dean informs the team that only the men’s program in Computer Science is to be reviewed. During the visit, the PEV recognizes s/he is seeing only the classrooms and laboratories used by the male students, student work from only male students, and that the pre-arranged student interviews are with male students only.

Of what is available to be evaluated, the Program Evaluators and team find no weaknesses or deficiencies within any of the three programs.

Select the best program evaluator and team approach from the list below:

a. Knowing that diversity is a strong focus of ABET, the PEV and team agree ABET should not be reviewing segregated programs. The Team Chair advises the dean the team will not review the three programs for accreditation and cancels the remainder of the visit.

b. With no weaknesses being found, the team recommends NGR for the Information Technology and Information Sciences programs at Computing University. Because the path to completing the Computer Science program taken by the women could not be reviewed, the Program Evaluator and team could not ascertain whether all paths for completing the Computer Science program met the criteria. Therefore, the Program Evaluator and team advise the Computer Science program to request withdrawal of its Request for Evaluation from ABET in order to eliminate a Not-To-Accredit action on their record. If the advice is not taken, the team recommends an NA action by CAC for the Computer Science program.

c. With no weaknesses being found, the team recommends NGR for all three programs. However, because only the men’s program in Computer Science was reviewed, the team recommends the notation “Men’s Program Only” be added to the recognition of the Computer Science program at Computing University.

d. With no weaknesses being found, the team recommends NGR for all three programs.

Answer Key

a. Although diversity is a strong focus, this action would not be appropriate. ABET has previously reviewed and accredited all women’s and all men’s programs in the United States. There are no current prohibitions in the policies and procedures against evaluating or accrediting a segregated program.

b. This action may be the most appropriate alternative. ABET policies require that all paths for completing a program must be accreditable. Lacking the ability to review one of the paths would result in a Not-to-Accredit recommendation for the entire program. The question to be answered by the PEV and team during the review is whether the segregated women-only program is in fact a separate path for completing the program.

c. This action was in fact taken on a previous ABET international review. At that time, this action was believed to provide the best answer to benefit some of the graduates of the program. Instead of following the policy that all paths must be accreditable, by adding the notation “Men’s Program Only,” the ABET team essentially separated and recognized the Computer Science program as two separate programs. Interestingly, this action was not requested by the institution, which maintains the one program taken by men and women is identical. Taking this action is no longer believed to be appropriate. If there are, in fact, two programs, each should have a different name and be reviewed separately. If there are two paths to complete one program, all paths must be reviewed and meet the criteria for the one program to be accredited.

d. Because the entire Computer Science program could not be reviewed, the recommendation of NGR is inappropriate for that one program.

C. Sample Situation 3: Chromatic College

Chromatic College requests review of its Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering programs by EAC, its Applied Machine Technology program by ETAC, and its Computer Science program by CAC. Self-Studies are reviewed, and the team representing the three commissions believes they are well prepared for the visit and review. During the visit, a representative from the country’s Ministry of Education requests a private meeting with the Program Evaluators and the Team Chairs from EAC and ETAC. During that meeting, the representative from the Ministry provides confidential information that unless the three engineering programs and the engineering technology program at Chromatic College receive accreditation from ABET, recognition of those programs by the Ministry will be rescinded.

Select the best program evaluator and team approach from the list below:

a. Recognition of the programs by the highest educational authority within each country is a requirement of ABET for review. The Program Evaluators and the Team Chairs previously believed that recognition was in place. Through careful questioning of the deans and program chairs and without revealing the confidential information provided, the team independently ascertains if, in fact, that recognition is currently in effect. If it is, the team continues its review of all programs and makes the appropriate recommendations regarding accreditation. The Team Chairs also inform the representative from the Ministry that the ABET review is based on the current recognition status of the programs.

b. Through careful questioning of the deans and program chairs and without revealing the confidential information provided, the team ascertains what it would mean to the programs to lose recognition by the Ministry of Education and takes that information into account during the review and team deliberations about accreditation recommendations.

c. The Team Chairs meet with the deans and divulge the information provided by the representative from the Ministry of Education indicating the perception of a problem between those programs and the Ministry and asking for a full explanation. The team takes that explanation into account during its deliberations about accreditation recommendations.

d. The Team Chairs cancel the remainder of the review trip, explaining to Chromatic College that there is no place for politics in the ABET accreditation process.

Answer Key

a. This may be the best alternative. It is certainly appropriate for the team to ascertain information to confirm all the programs are currently recognized by the Ministry. If the team learns they are not currently recognized by the Ministry, the respective commissions would not be able to accredit the programs. In this case, the team could choose to cancel the remainder of the visit or, in mutual agreement with Chromatic College, turn the review into a consultation or advisory visit. If the team learns the programs are currently recognized, the threat of cancelling that recognition should not have any effect on the review or recommendations. ABET Program Evaluators and Team Chairs have previously been told program budgets ride on the outcome of an accreditation action. The situation with Chromatic College is similar, and the information should be ignored in the review and deliberations about recommendations.

b. Although it might be interesting information to learn, loss of recognition by the Ministry would also trigger loss of accreditation by the commissions, regardless of the accreditation recommendations made by the team. Loss of recognition resulting from Not-to-Accredit actions should never be considered in the review. The response indicated would not be appropriate.

c. Information obtained in confidence should not be divulged. There may also be unknown ramifications in doing so, and it is always advisable to look for another course of action. When the information being requested concerns the criteria or policies and procedures, there are typically other ways of obtaining the information without violating a confidence. If the information does not concern the criteria or policies and procedures, it is likely unnecessary for the review.

d. ABET should not participate in any political maneuvering between Chromatic College and the Ministry of Education. In this situation cancelling the remainder of the review visit would not be appropriate.