Introduction and Invitation
Constructing resources for assessment and instruction related to the eleven student outcomes contained in Criterion 3 of the ABET Engineering Criteria requires contributions across the entire engineering community. If you have one or more resources (for example, helpful papers, survey forms, assessment materials, instructional materials) for assessment and/or instructional related to outcome a click here. Please indicate whether and how you would like your contribution to be acknowledged. Thanks for contributing the growing understanding of how we might help engineering students develop knowledge and skills that they will draw upon throughout their careers.
The first step in selecting assessment and instructional approaches for a learning outcome is to formulate learning objectives that support the outcome. Learning objectives describe expectations associated with the outcome in terms of expected and observable performances. Several researchers have already constructed learning objectives and these may provide worthwhile starting points for others.
Expectations to apply knowledge of science, mathematics and engineering are prevalent in many engineering courses. As a result, Felder and Brent  suggest that faculty members will be able to use their usual learning objectives for their engineering courses. A team of researchers (Larry Shuman, Mary E. Besterfield-Sacre, Harvey Wolfe, Cynthia J. Atman, Jack McGourty, Ronald L. Miller, Barbara M. Olds, and Gloria M. Rogers) working a NSF-supported project, Engineering Education: Assessment Methodologies and Curricula Innovation, used Bloom's Taxonomy to develop and organize a set of learning objectives for outcome 3a (apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering) . They developed learning objectives for all six levels of learning in Bloom's taxonomy for two outcome elements:
- Apply knowledge of mathematics
- Apply knowledge of science and engineering fundamentals
The number and complexity of their outcomes elements is considerably simpler than elements for other outcomes.
Outcome 3a is one outcome where each engineering major (chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, etc) might invest thought to develop program outcomes specific to their engineering discipline. For example, faculty members in electrical engineering at the University of North Dakota have several outcomes that are specific to electrical engineering .
In a report from the National Research Council, Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment , assessment, once expectations have been constructed, rests on three pillars: cognition, observation, and interpretation.
Theories of Cognition
Abilities to apply knowledge of engineering, science, and mathematics might be demonstrated in many ways. For example, students might solve engineering problems. If this is the case, outcome a overlaps with outcome e. Students might design a component or system using their knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering. If this is the case, outcome a overlaps with outcome c. Therefore, outcome a is often linked to other outcomes.
Applying their knowledge requires that students have more than the ability to recall factual knowledge. Conceptual understanding would also be expected. Recognizing the importance of conceptual understanding, researchers have developed many instruments to test conceptual understanding of physics, chemistry, and engineering science. Information about these instruments and links to additional resources can be found on the Concept Inventory web page of the Foundation Coalition.
Under construction (12 January 2005)