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Implementing Outcomes Assessment: An Approach Based on Competencies. Steve Mickelson Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering. Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering (ABE). Two undergraduate majors Agricultural Engineering (~150 students)

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implementing outcomes assessment an approach based on competencies

Implementing Outcomes Assessment:An ApproachBased on Competencies

Steve Mickelson

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

agricultural biosystems engineering abe

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering (ABE)
  • Two undergraduate majors
    • Agricultural Engineering (~150 students)
    • Agricultural Systems Technology (~150 students)
    • Industrial Technology (~220 students)
  • Two graduate majors (~90)
  • In two colleges: Engineering and Agriculture
  • 33 faculty
    • 22 involved in undergraduate teaching
    • Faculty are academic advisors
    • No teaching assistants
presentation road map

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Presentation Road Map
  • Our path to competencies
  • Our outcomes assessment plan
  • Implications and implementation
  • Now what?
the buzz outcomes assessment

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

The Buzz: Outcomes Assessment!
  • ISU university-wide accreditation in 2005
    • Evidence of active outcomes assessment programs is required.
  • ISU College of Engineering
    • ABET in 2000 & 2006
  • ABE has been thinking and

working a lot on this with

mostly good faculty buy-in

our outcomes via abet

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Our Outcomes via ABET
  • an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering and technology
  • an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
  • an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs
  • an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  • an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  • an ability to communicate effectively
  • the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
  • a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  • a knowledge of contemporary issues
  • an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering and technology practice





* Alverno “ABET” Outcomes

We don’t know how to measure an ability.

outcomes abilities competencies

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

  • A complex abilitycannot be observed directly; it must be inferred from performance.
  • Abilities are complex combinations of competencies.
  • Competencies are the application of behavior and motivation to knowledge, understanding and skill.
  • Key actions that demonstrate workplace competencies can be measured.
identifying workplace competencies

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Identifying Workplace Competencies
  • Cooperative effort with Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI)
  • Stakeholder dialogue, faculty analysis
    • “Critical incident” stories of workplace success
    • Stories identified and validated 14 competencies mapped back to outcomes
  • Each competency has Key Actions that are definable and measurable
competencies have meaning

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Competencies Have Meaning
  • “Transparent” to all participants
  • A great match with:
    • employers’ goals
    • student and faculty understanding
  • Provides a map and tools for students to achieve their goals in a meaningful way
how should we assess outcomes

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

How Should We Assess Outcomes?
  • Actual student work is the primary evidence.
  • Exit interviews, post-graduate surveys, etc. are opinions and are only supporting evidence
  • ABE will use:
    • ePortfolios
    • Internship evaluations
    • Employer evaluations of alumni
    • FE exam
what are eportfolios

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

What are ePortfolios?
  • Collection of artifacts for certain purposes displayed on the web
  • Our purpose: developing and demonstrating student competencies
  • It’s all about learning!
    • Reflection
    • Demonstration
why eportfolios students

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Why ePortfolios? (Students)
  • Student learning
    • Building an ePortfolio requires reflection

Reflection → Learning!

    • Faculty can have access to student work for comment, review
  • Adds depth to resume for career search success
    • Highlight skills in ways not

previously possible

    • Potential employers are interested
why eportfolios faculty

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Why ePortfolios? (Faculty)
  • Outcomes assessment
  • A tool to better manage, review, reflect, and comment on student work (class & advising)
  • Faculty learning
    • Building an ePortfolio requires reflection

Reflection → Learning!

    • Adding access to student work to document teaching excellence
on line competency assessment

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

On-line Competency Assessment
  • OPAL by DDI, Inc.
    • On-line Performance and Learning
    • Web-based assessment and learning tool built on competencies
  • Multiple uses for us
    • Internship evaluations by employers
    • Alumni evaluations by employers
    • Classroom (self and 360º)

Ind Advisory Board



Strengths &






(Individuals and as a Whole)

ABE Outcomes Assessment Map


Mission, Goals

& Objectives

Ind Advisory Board

  • Co-op & internship evaluations
  • ePortfolios
  • Employer evaluation of 5- year grads
  • FE exam
  • Senior exit surveys
  • SEI
  • 5 year post grad survey
  • CSREES review
  • Advisor evaluations
  • Placement statistics

6 years


Outcomes &



Classes mapped to outcomes & competencies





Co-op &




ttyp turn to your partner

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

TTYP – Turn to Your Partner
  • What are the barriers to implementing an outcomes assessment plan?
our barriers

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Our Barriers
  • Faculty and administrative buy-in
  • Financial resources
  • Expertise
  • Clear vision
  • Time
    • Faculty development
    • Competing demands
  • Rewards
  • Champion(s)
stakeholders view of the probability of developing and demonstrating the communication competency


Stakeholders’ View of the Probability of Developing and Demonstrating the Communication Competency
competency based learning cbl

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Competency-based Learning (CBL)
  • Learning outcomes in terms of competencies
    • curricula focus on competency development
  • “Transparent” to all participants
  • Great match with employers’ goals and student understanding
  • Provides a map and tools for students to achieve their goals in a meaningful way
cbl demands change

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

CBL demands change
  • Faculty must think, teach and assess in terms of competencies.
  • Our curriculum must evolve.
    • It can no longer be a series of requirements (or hurdles).
    • Opportunity to integrate previously disparate parts of the undergraduate experience.
a cbl model

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Assessment of



Acquired Skills,

Abilities, and




Integrative Learning Experiences

Developed in the

Learning Process

Skills, Abilities and Knowledge

Learning Experiences

Traits and Characteristics


A CBL Model

Voorhees et al, U.S. Dept. of Education, 2001

implementing cbl

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Implementing CBL
  • Avoid “extra” work for faculty
  • Classes already mapped to outcomes
    • Map competencies to classes
  • Identify key assignments for student portfolios
  • Help faculty learn the “language” of competencies
  • Provide common rubrics
implementing cbl with technology

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Implementing CBL with Technology
  • ePortfolios to develop and demonstrate competencies
  • On-line case simulations to simulate the workplace
  • On-line assessment for internships, alumni and in the classroom
eportfolio implementation

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

ePortfolio Implementation
  • Freshman Learning Community
    • introduce competencies
    • start collecting and reflecting on artifacts
  • Sophomore and Juniors seminars
    • Start ePortfolios
    • Feedback from instructor and advisor
  • Senior seminar
    • Final ePortfolio required for graduation
    • Assessed by faculty and professionals
abe eportfolio system

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

ABE ePortfolio System
  • Database for holding multi-modal artifacts, reflections, and assessments
  • Student-designed, student-owned interface to display artifacts
on line case simulations

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

On-line Case Simulations
  • Case Studies
    • Promotes competencies and reflection
  • English 314 (Technical Writing)
    • Communication - the weakest competency
one instance omega molecular

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Omega Molecular

Feeding the world, better.

One Instance: Omega Molecular
  • Students are employees of consulting firm
  • Client: Omega Molecular
    • Engagement with virtual biotech organization
    • Analyzing and producing recommendations and communications
now what

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering

Now What?
  • Our status today:
    • Students are collecting artifacts.
    • Pilot group is creating ePortfolios.
    • Faculty are designating key assignments and learning about CBL.
    • We’re assessing internships & alumni.
  • Just Completed:
    • Implement seminar classes (S’06)
    • Do a complete cycle (S’06)
    • Conducted ABET visit (F’06)