The SECS faculty has always been committed to continuously improve the quality of both the SECS undergraduate and graduate educational programs. The faculty has developed and implemented a systematic, formal plan to measure, assess, evaluate and improve the SECS programs. The development of this plan began with identifying and reaching out to the constituent groups the SECS serves: our students, employers and faculty. Representatives of the constituent groups determined educational objectives for each program that describe the goals necessary for successful modern engineering practice. Outcomes were also identified for each educational program that ensure demonstration of the student skills necessary to achieve the educational objective goals in professional practice.
Assessment question: Do SECS students demonstrate achievement of the student outcomes before graduation? Student outcomes are a set of skills necessary for successful professional practice, and include problem solving, laboratories, design, teamwork, ethics, interpreting data, communication, information literacy, contemporary issues and modern engineering tools.
The SECS program assessment/improvement process involves both indirect and direct measures of the success of each course within each program as well as overall measures of the educational programs and of the assessment process itself. In order to make efficient use of resources, the assessment and continuous improvement process is implemented School-wide. Each component of the assessment process is described briefly below.
Program Evaluation. The overall success of a program is measured by whether the students of that program can demonstrate achievement of all outcomes before they graduate, and if the professional objectives of the program are demonstrated as the students are professionally employed. Key courses are identified in each program where students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate achievement of the student outcomes. The set of key courses is chosen to insure that all of the student outcomes are demonstrated. Student materials that may provide evidence that the outcomes have been achieved are collected from the key courses. External evaluators, including but not limited to faculty not directly involved with the course and departmental advisory board members, review these materials to establish whether the students in that class have demonstrated some or all of the student outcomes and the level to which those outcomes are achieved. The department undergraduate affairs committees (DUAC) review the results of these external evaluations and, when necessary, generate appropriate plans to improve the achievement of the student outcomes.
Course Evaluation. Each SECS course has a set of course objectives, developed by the instructing faculty and department undergraduate affairs committees (DUACs), which insure the logical sequence of topics throughout the program that are necessary to the eventual, successful achievement of the student outcomes. At the end of each semester, the students and faculty in each course rate how well the objectives in each particular course section were achieved. The faculty member identifies the specific program outcome(s) achieved in the course and cites student work as evidence in support of their assessment. In addition, faculty are encouraged to comment on how well the course fits into the overall scheme of the program and to suggest improvements to the course, the course objectives and the overall program of study. The department chairperson reviews these course evaluations on a regular basis and forwards the suggestions for improvement to the department undergraduate affairs committee (DUAC) for consideration, prioritization and action. Each DUAC is composed of several faculty members, and the department chair as ex-officio member.
Input of Constituents. In addition to directly measuring the demonstration of student outcomes, several other tools are utilized to gather additional information about the overall health and success of each program. Students are surveyed as they exit the SECS programs and are asked about every aspect of their OU experience, focusing on the achievement of the student outcomes. Oakland alumni are surveyed and are asked how well the SECS programs prepared them for professional employment and graduate study. Alumni are also solicited for suggestions for improvements to the programs of study and the program's objectives. Faculty assessment coordinators meet regularly with employers of our graduates and members of the SECS and departmental advisory committees, who are asked to comment on the preparation of the graduates for professional employment and are also solicited for suggestions for improvements to the programs of study and the program objectives. The information gathered with these additional tools are examined and evaluated by the department undergraduate affairs committees (DUAC), who subsequently generate plans, when necessary and based on the input, to improve the programs.
Documentation and assessment process evaluation. As indicated above, the various steps of the SECS assessment process are:
The 2008 Oakland University Assessment Excellence Award was presented on April 16, 2008 to the undergraduate engineering programs in the School of Engineering and Computer Science in recognition of the School's model of the North Central Association's culture of assessment goal by integrating assessment findings with program revisions. The citation reads: "The assessment of student learning outcomes is integrated into the fabric of Oakland University's undergraduate engineering programs. This is evidenced by the extensive description of the assessment process found on the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences (SECS) home page. Assessment is the source of valuable information leading to significant improvements to the engineering curriculum, including the re-working of the core program to be more interdisciplinary, and the creation of a sophomore level design course. Grounded in the ABET expectations for student learning, the engineering assessment process clearly links program learning outcomes with specific courses and embeds the assessment at multiple points in the curriculum. This provides direct evidence of what students know and can do. In addition, the extensive use of the Web in the process enables the collection and analysis of sufficient data to ensure the quality of the results. The SECS faculty is to be commended for the development of a strong culture of evidence." The SECS received $5,000 and was encouraged to use the money to fund enhancements to the assessment process and was recognized on a plaque to be displayed in the OU Kresge Library lobby.