Report on Reports

22. Accreditation Criteria... 2001 - Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology


Accreditation Criteria…2001


With the increased attention being paid to assessment of educational reforms and the increased political need for accountability, it is clear that assessment tools may soon become part of the requisite skill set for the practicing STEM educator/reformer. [Thus]…it is imperative that leaders within the STEM community extend their bridge-building efforts beyond the scope of the STEM community. As we build teams to create and develop interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary projects, we should also incorporate members whose strengths lie within the arena of educational assessment. In addition to strengthening the assessment of what we do, the validation of what we do to an audience outside of the STEM community also serves to strengthen our validity with the general populace.

–PKAL F21 Statement, 2002.


There are several welcome signs that current efforts toward reform are sustainable. This includes recent efforts of professional societies in setting formal criteria against which programs in their disciplines can be reviewed and in setting guidelines for the development of curriculum. Because these criteria and guidelines are developed by and for the community, there is a greater sense of ownership. With the society behind their consideration and adaptation, there is also an increased urgency that these criteria and guidelines are taken seriously. We have chosen to highlight the work of the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology in these pages, as one of the catalytic initiatives from a professional society toward the end of changing the culture for undergraduate learning.

It is important to point out however, the remarkable congruence in this generation of reports and recommendations in regard to issues such as faculty review and tenure policies, discovery-rich curriculum, etc. In formal statements from societies ranging from the American Psychological Society to the Society for Computer Science Education to those from ABET, we find agreement on goals for student learning, as well as on the departmental and institutional conditions needed to ensure that those goals are attained. One value of this growing agreement between and among disciplinary communities is the potential for collective action at the campus level. When different departments understand how similar are their goals for program outcomes and of their plans for assessing progress toward those goals, everyone’s work will proceed more efficiently and productively.

Materials from ABET suggest criteria that could be generalized and/or that provide a platform from which broader campus conversations about visions for student learning could proceed.

The ABET materials are also explicit in regard to assessment processes that lead to documented results, requiring evidence that the results of that assessment be applied to the further development and improvement of the program. The assessment process must demonstrate that the outcomes important to the mission of the institution and the objectives of the program, including those listed above, are being measured.