As part of continuous improvement of the program and ABET accreditation requirements, direct assessment methods of student outcomes are necessary and quite illustrative in terms of describing student learning. Direct assessment methods range from evaluating student performance on locally prepared examinations or standardized tests to assessing student portfolios or performing performance appraisals. Choice of the methods depends on a range of factors including number of students in the program, impact on faculty workload and appropriateness of sample size. One of the challenges in implementing a successful direct assessment process is engaging the faculty and achieving a high level of participation and support. Here we describe the development and successful implementation of direct assessment processes for a large mechanical engineering program with 1750 students and 42 faculty at a land-grant, research-intensive doctoral granting university. This process was piloted in Spring 2011 to identify potential issues, and fully implemented by the Spring of 2012. Assessment of the process itself indicates high level of faculty satisfaction and involvement, suggesting that the process is a sustainable one.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sriram_sundararajan/14/