Active/Collaborative Learning Student Teams Integrating Technology Effectively Women and Minorities Assessment and Evaluation EC2000 Emerging Technology Foundation Coalition Curricula Concept Inventories
Outcome j a knowledge of contemporary issues

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 j 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.

Learning Objectives

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.

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 3j (knowledge of contemporary issues) [1]. They developed learning objectives for all six levels of learning in Bloom's taxonomy for two outcome elements:

  • Ability to address the major socio-economic issues facing US and world
  • Ability to address political issues at nation, state and local levels

The CDIO Initiative [2] has identified three outcome elements associated with outcome 3j (knowledge of contemporary issues), but has not constructed learning objectives for the outcome elements.

  • The important contemporary political, social, legal and environmental issues and values
  • The process by which contemporary values are set, and one's role in these processes
  • The mechanisms for expansion and diffusion of knowledge

Felder and Brent offer the following two learning objectives for outcome 3j (knowledge of contemporary issues) [3]: Given a job-related scenario that requires a decision with ethical implications, the student will be able to:

  • Identify important contemporary regional, national, or global
    problems that involve engineering, and
  • Propose and discuss ways engineers are contributing or might
    contribute to the solution of specified regional, national, and
    global problems.


Assessment Approaches

In a report from the National Research Council, Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment [4], assessment, once expectations have been constructed, rests on three pillars: cognition, observation, and interpretation.

Theory of Cognition

Under construction (20 April 2005)

Theory of Observation

Under construction (20 April 2005)

Theory of Interpretation

Under construction (20 April 2005)

Potential Resources

Under construction (20 April 2005)

Instructional Approaches

Under construction (25 January 2005)

References for Further Information

  1. Learning Outcomes/Attributes, ABET jKnowledge of Contemporary Issues, accessed 25 January 2005
  2. Crawley, E.F. (2002). Creating the CDIO Syllabus, A Universal Template for Engineering Education, Proceedings, Frontiers in Education Conference

    Abstract: This paper details how a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified and codified a set of goals for engineering education, which can serve as the basis for curricular improvement and outcome based assessment. The result of two years of scholarship, these goals are embodied in The CDIO Syllabus, A Statement of Goals for Undergraduate Engineering Education.

    The specific CDIO (Conceive Design Implement Operate) Syllabus objective is to create rational, complete, universal and generalizable goals for undergraduate engineering education. The Syllabus focuses on personal, interpersonal and system building skills, and leaves a placeholder for the disciplinary fundamentals appropriate for any specific field of engineering. It complements and significantly expands on ABETs criteria. The process of adapting the Syllabus to a degree program includes a survey step to determine the desired level of proficiency in the designated skills that is, by consensus, expected of programs graduates.

    With rationale, detail and broad applicability, the CDIO Syllabus principal value is that it can be generalized to serve as a model from which any universitys engineering programs may derive specific learning outcomes. A work in progress, we encourage examination, comment and potential adoption. Widespread adoption of the Syllabus will facilitate sharing of the best curricular and pedagogic approaches, and it will promote the development of standardized assessment tools.

  3. Felder, R.M., and Brent, R. (2003). Designing and Teaching Courses to Satisfy the ABET Engineering Criteria. Journal of Engineering Education, 92:1, 7-25.

    Abstract: Since the new ABET accreditation system was first introduced to American engineering education in the middle 1990s as Engineering Criteria 2000, most discussion in the literature has focused on how to assess Outcomes 3a3k and relatively little has concerned how to equip students with the skills and attitudes specified in those outcomes. This paper seeks to fill this gap. Its goals are to (1) overview the accreditation process and clarify the confusing array of terms associated with it (objectives, outcomes, outcome indicators, etc.); (2) provide guidance on the formulation of course learning objectives and assessment methods that address Outcomes 3a3k; (3) identify and describe instructional techniques that should effectively prepare students to achieve those outcomes by the time they graduate; and (4) propose a strategy for integrating programlevel and course-level activities when designing an instructional program to meet the requirements of the ABET engineering criteria.

  4. National Research Council. (2001). Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. Committee on the Foundations of Assessment, James W. Pellegrino, Naomi Chudowsky, and Robert Glaser, editors, Board on Testing and Assessment, Center for Education, National Research Council.


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