A complete summary of changes in criteria and in policies and procedures since 2011 – 2012 can be found in Keep up with Accreditation Changes. Those who have not recently participated in a program review should review these changes.
Harmonized Criteria: What Changed (in a nutshell)?
- Definition of Program Educational Objectives is modified.
- Assessment and evaluation are still required for Student Outcomes but not for Program Educational Objectives.
- Criterion 4 explicitly requires data from evaluation of student outcomes be systematically utilized as input for continuous improvement.
- Important: Self-study and forms have changed. Be sure to use the forms in the current PEV Workbook.
Criterion 2: Program Educational Objectives (PEOs)
PEOs “are broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years of graduation.”
Published and consistent with the mission of the institution, the needs of the program’s various constituencies, and these criteria.
A documented and effective process, involving program constituencies, for the periodic review and revision of these PEOs.
Criterion 2 Issues
- Do the published PEO’s satisfy the definition? Are they broad statements that describe what the graduates are expected to attain within a few years of graduation?
- Does the program convince the team the PEO’s are consistent with constituent needs?
- Is there a documented and effective process, involving program constituencies, for the periodic review and revision of PEOs?
What if the PEOs sound like a collection of student outcomes (instead of objectives)?
- If PEOs are not PEOs, there is a Criterion 2 shortcoming.
What if there is no process for determining the needs of the program’s constituents?
- If the program does not demonstrate how it determined that PEOs incorporate constituents’ needs, there is a Criterion 2 shortcoming.
- Without documentation of the process, there is a Criterion 2 shortcoming. The documentation requires:
- Explicit definition of the major steps
- Explicit definition of those responsible for each step
- Timing of each step
What if the program process used for periodic review of PEOs only involves some of the program constituencies?
- If all program constituencies are not involved systematically, there is a Criterion 2 shortcoming.
Criterion 3: Student Outcomes (SOs) – Definition & Requirements
Student outcomes describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation (skills, knowledge, and behaviors).
Student outcomes are (a) though (k) plus any additional ones articulated by the program. The program must have documented student outcomes that prepare the graduates to attain the PEOs.
Criterion 3: Issues
- If the program has rewritten the student outcomes, but they do not include all of (a) through (k), there is a Criterion 3 shortcoming.
- If the program does not show that documented student outcomes prepare the graduates to attain the PEOs, there is a Criterion 3 shortcoming.
Criterion 4: Continuous Improvement
- The program must regularly use appropriate, documented processes for assessing and evaluating the extent to which the SOs are being attained.
- The results of these evaluations must be systematically utilized as input for continuous improvement of the program.
- Other available information may also be used to assist in continuous improvement.
Criterion 4 Issues
- Is the process fully documented with a description of the major steps, timing, and those responsible for each step?
- Are all SOs (a) though (k) + being regularly assessed and evaluated?
- Do the assessment and evaluation processes allow the program to determine the extent of attainment of the SOs?
- Are those results systematically utilized as input for the continuous improvement of the program?
- Note: Be sure to apply this criterion in a holistic sense. The process of assessment and evaluation needs to demonstrate the extent to which outcomes are attained. There is no requirement that says (i) all outcomes must be attained to the same degree, or (ii) a numeric scale must be used to measure degree of attainment.
Criterion 4 FAQs
The program has been making changes, but none are related to assessment of SOs results.
- If there is no evidence these results are being used as input to the improvement process, there is a Criterion 4 shortcoming.
A program has rewritten the SOs and is assessing them, but their list does not include all of the Criterion 3 outcomes.
- If a Criterion 3 (a-k) SO is not assessed there is a Criterion 4 shortcoming.
What about assessment data? What is adequate data?
- Does it all have to be objective/direct? (NO.)
- Can it be subjective? (Some of it may be; but the evaluation should not be based only on subjective assessment.)
- Is the observation or conclusion of course instructor adequate? (It depends on his or her basis for the observation.)
- Does evidence for each outcome have to be in the form of work the student has produced? (No, but the team needs to be convinced the extent to which student outcomes are attained has been determined.)
Accreditation Policy and Procedure
There are a number of APPM (Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual) issues that require attention.
- I.A. Public Release of Accreditation Information By the Institution
- I.A.4. Institutions are required to represent the accreditation status of each program accurately and without ambiguity. Programs are either accredited or not accredited. ABET does not rank programs.
- I.A.6. Each accredited program must be specifically identified as “accredited by the _________ Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.”
- Number of graduates
- I.C.5. To be eligible for an initial accreditation review, a program must have at least one graduate within the academic year prior to the academic year of the on-site review.
- I.E.4. Program names must meet ABET requirements.
- The program name must be descriptive of the content of the program.
- The program name must be shown consistently on transcripts of its graduates, in the institution’s electronic and print publications, and on the ABET Request for Evaluation (RFE).
- If a program name implies specialization(s) for which Program Criteria have been developed, the program must satisfy all applicable Program Criteria.
- A program may choose to have an option, or similar designation implying specialization within the program, reviewed as a separate program.
- If a program name invokes review by more than one commission, then the program will be jointly reviewed by all applicable commissions.
- APPM I.E.5. Comprehensive Review – The review team will examine:
- I.E.5.b.(1) Facilities – to assure the instructional and learning environments are adequate and are safe for the intended purposes. Neither ABET nor its representatives offer opinions as to whether, or certify that, the institution’s facilities comply with any or all applicable rules or regulations pertaining to: fire, safety, building, and health codes, or consensus standards and recognized best practices for safety.
Note: In the past, safety-related shortcomings were cited under Criterion 7: Facilities. Current Criterion 7 does not address safety. Safety-related shortcomings should be cited under APPM I.E.5, not Criterion 7.
The APPM also defines the level of shortcoming.
APPM I.E.8.a.(2) Findings of shortcoming:
I.E.8.a.(2)(a) Deficiency – A Deficiency indicates that a criterion, policy or procedure is not satisfied. Therefore, the program is not in compliance with the criterion, policy, or procedure.
I.E.8.a.(2)(b) Weakness – A Weakness indicates that a program lacks the strength of compliance with a criterion, policy, or procedure to ensure that the quality of the program will not be compromised. Therefore, remedial action is required to strengthen compliance with the criterion, policy , or procedure prior to the next review.
I.E.8.a.(2)(c) Concern – A Concern indicates that a program currently satisfies a criterion, policy or procedure; however, the potential exists for the situation to change such that the criterion, policy, or procedure may not be satisfied.
Note that Concern indicates that the program is fully compliant, so no changes are required. If the shortcoming describes a situation that must be corrected, rather than a potential for future changes leading to non-compliance, the shortcoming should be a Weakness rather than a Concern. A Concern is not a weak (minor) Weakness – it is potential for future non-compliance.