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Accreditation of Engineering, Technology and Computing Programs PowerPoint Presentation
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Accreditation of Engineering, Technology and Computing Programs

Accreditation of Engineering, Technology and Computing Programs

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Accreditation of Engineering, Technology and Computing Programs

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  1. Accreditation of Engineering, Technology and Computing Programs Moshe Kam IEEE Vice President for Educational Activities First Edition – October 2007 Version 003

  2. Contact Information Moshe Kam Robert G. Quinn Professorand Department Head Drexel University Electrical and Computer Engineering 3141 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19101 kam@drexel.edu

  3. DISCLAIMER • This presentation was prepared by the IEEE Educational Activities Board for a broad, general discussion of accreditation of engineering, computing, and technology • Material is provided for illustrative purposes only • Description of various rules and regulations are made in general descriptive terms and are not intended for operational or legal use • Material is not purported to represent the official policy of any accrediting body or any other governmental or non-governmental agency outside of IEEE

  4. Outline • Purpose • Accreditation in Engineering, Computing and Technology • Definition, aims, uses and misuses, models • Mutual recognition agreements • Building new accrediting bodies in the early 21st Century

  5. Outline • Purpose • Accreditation in Engineering, Computing and Technology • Definition, aims, uses and misuses, models • Mutual recognition agreements • Building new accrediting bodies in the early 21st Century

  6. Purpose • To provide an overview of the accreditation process • To present different models and principal trends • To review existing international agreements and accords in the area of accreditation

  7. A Few Words about IEEE • IEEE is the largest multinational professional engineering association in the world • 367,000 members in 150 countries • A 501(c)3 organization in incorporated in New York • Originally concentrating on power engineering and communications, IEEE at present spans technical interests across the spectrum of technology • From nanotechnology to oceanic engineering • In many respects IEEE has become “the steward of Engineering”

  8. Early Presidents Alexander G. Bell Elihu Thomson Charles Steinmetz Frank Sprague

  9. A few more recent Presidents Leah Jamieson Joseph Bordogna Michael Lightner Wallace Read

  10. Why is IEEE interested in Accreditation? • Because it is in IEEE’s stated mission • Because accreditation has significant impact on the content of the curriculum in IEEE’s fields of interest • And hence on the future of the profession • Because IEEE’s involvement introduces the voice of the profession and its practitioners into the decision making process of educational institutions

  11. Why is IEEE interested in Accreditation? • IEEE considers accreditation a strategic objective and supports accrediting bodies worldwide • The IEEE BoD allocates funds and human resources to accreditation on an annual basis • About 500 volunteers • $2M/year in direct expenditures in 2007

  12. Outline • Purpose • Accreditation in Engineering, Computing and Technology • Definition, aims, uses and misuses, models • Mutual recognition agreements • Building a new accrediting body in the early 21st Century

  13. Operational Definition of Accreditation by CHEA (US) • Accreditation in higher education is defined as a collegial process based on self- and peer assessment for public accountability and improvement of academic quality • [Peers =group of peer faculty and staff, professionals, and public members] • Peers assess the quality of an institution or academic program and assist the faculty and staff in improvement

  14. Three Major Activities • The faculty, administrators, and staff of the institution or academic program conduct a self-study using the accrediting organization’s set of expectations about quality (standards, criteria) as their guide • A team of peers, selected by the accrediting organization, reviews the evidence, visits the campus to interview the faculty and staff, and writes a report of its assessment, including a recommendation to the commission of the accrediting organization

  15. The third step… • Guided by a set of expectations about quality and integrity, the commission • reviews the evidence and recommendation • makes a judgment • communicates the decision to the institution • and other constituencies if appropriate

  16. A Broader Definition of Accreditation • Formal recognition of an educational program by an external body on the basis of an assessment of quality • An evaluation process in which an objective group (accrediting body) examines an educational program to ensure that it is meeting minimum standards established by experts in the field • The outcome of the process is binary: program is either accredited or not accredited

  17. A Broader Definition of Accreditation • Formal recognition of an educational program by an external body on the basis of an assessment of quality • An evaluation process in which an objective group (accrediting body) examines an educational program to ensure that it is meeting minimum standards established by experts in the field • The outcome of the process is binary: program is either accredited or not accredited

  18. Challenges to the Traditional Definition (1) • Should the accreditation be done by an “external body”? • Is it possible to conduct accreditation by peer groups • E.g., peer institutions • Should the result of accreditation be binary? • Some groups in Europe have called for providing evaluation in four categories with respect to every criterion • Fails to meet minimum requirements • Meets minimum requirements • Exceeds minimum requirements • Excels in meeting this criterion

  19. Challenges to the Traditional Definition (2) • Should we strive to meet minimum standards rather than achieving continuous improvement and excellence? • Will the current system of accreditation be useful to industry in the long term? • The mobility of labor has challenged traditional credentials • The ECE industry had already rejected the licensing process • E.g., the industrial exemption in the United States

  20. Looking Forward: Traditions • The trends we observe in accreditation will challenge traditional models • It is unlikely that over-prescriptive accreditation models will survive • It is unlikely that models that are based solely on minimum thresholds will survive

  21. The Constituencies of an Educational Program • Past, present and prospective students • Prospective employers • Other bodies of higher education • Licensing bodies • Government • The public at large

  22. The Various Functions of Accreditation (1) • Provide constituencies of the educational program with a guarantee that an educational program… • meets (minimum) standards • continues to evolve in order to incorporate best practices • Put a stamp of approval on graduates – they are ready to practice • Raises the issue of First Professional Degree in Engineering

  23. The Various Functions of Accreditation (2) • Provide educational programs with opportunities for self-definition and self-reflection • and with feedback on program content and direction • Provide opportunities for continuous improvement of education programs

  24. Misuse of Accreditation • Coercion • The process needs to be voluntary • Disciplinary action • Ranking and comparison of schools • Controlling the school • Serving the interests of one constituency on the expense of others • Homogenizing higher education • Control competition • Limit enrollments

  25. Accreditation is not indispensable… • Industry can replace accreditation by other mechanisms of quality assessment • University rankings by academic bodies • University rankings by the popular press • Internal lists of “acceptable institutions” • Entry exams and interviews of graduates • If accreditation is to survive it should be • Pertinent • Transparent • Fair • Economical • Adaptive to the business climate

  26. The Basic Structure of the Process: Accrediting Body • Accrediting body defines its accreditation philosophy and publishes criteria and process • Accrediting body identifies and trains program evaluators • Bodies that recognize accrediting bodies require proof of decision independence • The funding mechanism and accreditation decisions should be independent

  27. A Word of Caution: Independence • In several instances, IEEE observed loss of independence of accrediting bodies • In all of these cases, the accrediting body was discredited • Schools preferred foreign accrediting bodies over the local one • It is not clear whether government controlled accrediting bodies will be recognized in the future by international accords

  28. The Basic Structure of the Process: Program • Program studies accrediting body literature • Program collects required material and verifies presumption of accreditability • Program requests an accreditation visit • Program gets organized to provide information to accrediting body and visiting team • Self study

  29. Interaction Between Accrediting Body and Program • Mutual agreement on visiting team • Agreement on dates and logistics • Within published guidelines • Pre-visit communications • Accrediting visit and preliminary reporting • Post-visit communications • Report preparation and determination of outcome • Post-report communications – possible appeals

  30. Two important caveats • The accreditation visit is supposed to provide “no surprises” • All concerns that program evaluators have on the basis of submitted data are supposed to be discussed ahead of the visit • On site visit focuses on the accreditation criteria and their implementation • This is not the time for ‘free advice’ or planning of the program future by the visiting group

  31. Looking Forward: Implementation • At present most accreditation bodies operate on 5-7 year cycles • A series of “dramatic events” followed by long periods of low or no activity • Elaborate visits requiring significant preparation • It is possible to design a much simpler process that takes advantage of progress in information technology • Information is posted and updated continually • Visits are shorter • focus only on the few items that do not require face to face interaction

  32. For additional details see www.Accreditation.org Selected accrediting bodies (1) • Engineers Australia • Engineers Ireland • Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers • France: Commission des Titres d'Ingénieur • Germany: ASIIN • Hong Kong Institution of Engineers

  33. For additional details see www.Accreditation.org Selected accrediting bodies (2) • Japan: Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education • Korea: Accreditation Board for Engineering Education of Korea • Malaysia: Board of Engineers Malaysia • Mexico: Council of Accreditation of the Education of Engineering • New Zealand: Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand

  34. For additional details see www.Accreditation.org Selected accrediting bodies (3) • Singapore: Institution of Engineers Singapore • South Africa: Engineering Council of South Africa • United Kingdom: Engineering Council United Kingdom • United States: ABET

  35. Characteristics of Accreditation (1) • Voluntary • Performed by an external agency • Based on the locale of the program • Uses representation of all major constituencies • Government inspection is not Accreditation • Based on clear published standards • Evaluative – not regulatory • It is not the place of the visiting team to provide the visited program with detailed prescriptions and methodology

  36. Characteristics of Accreditation (2) • Requires continuous maintenance • Binary (at present, in most cases) • Cognizant of program objectives and goals • One size does not fit all • Accreditation is not meant to homogenize the education system

  37. What are the Factors That May be Considered? • Content of the curriculum • Is there enough exposure to discrete mathematics? • Size and skill base of the faculty • Does a Computer Science program have individuals who are trained in Artificial Intelligence? • Morale and governance of the faculty

  38. Potential Consideration Factors (2) • Facilities • Does the Microwave Laboratory in an EE program have a Spectrum Analyzer? • Admission criteria • Do the admission criteria ensure that incoming students have the basic skills required to attend the program?

  39. Potential Consideration Factors (3) • Support services • Do the program’s computing facilities enjoy professional system administration? • Graduate placement • Do the majority of the program graduates find gainful professional employment within 6 months of graduation? • Budgets and expenditures

  40. Looking Forward… • Many of the traditional factors required a site visit for verification • A model that considers most of the factors on line is now possible • Accreditation may become continuous rather than a discrete event • Shift from reaching the minimum to continuous improvement

  41. Level of Specificity • The degree to which criteria are defined in terms of numerical goals or specific coverage methodologies • The degree of specificity depends on the accreditation model • The general trend in the last 10 years is away from specifics

  42. Level of Specificity: Examples • Non-specific • A computer science program needs to show that graduates were exposed to the principles of database organization and have used this knowledge in open- ended exercises and projects • Specific • A computer science program will include at least 24 hours on in-class instruction on databases which includes: database models (at least 3 hours); relational models (at least 1 hour)… • A minimum of two 6-hour laboratory exercises on databases must be included. These exercises include…

  43. A Two-Tier Process • Usually accreditation of engineering, computing and technology programs relies on a “general accreditation” of the institution • Another accrediting agency ascertains compliance with laws and regulations, basic fiscal solvency, and preservation of human rights • If the first tier is missing, the “technical” accreditation needs to include it • This may be a challenge for new accrediting bodies

  44. Most of the Work Does Not Involve the Accrediting Body • Program must establish mechanism to collect data on its activities • Program must establish mechanism to use data to reaffirm or reform its activities • Program must undergo a thorough self-study • This is often the most important outcome of the accreditation process

  45. Different Approaches and Styles of Accreditation • The Minimal Model • The Regulatory Model • The Outcome-Based Model • The Peer-Review model • The Program Club model

  46. The “Minimal Model” • Ascertains basic characteristics of the school and program • Often numeric and law-based • Does the school satisfy basic legal requirements? • Does the school have enough budget, infrastructure and reserves to conduct the program? • Ascertains existence of the fundamental basics in the school and program • Physical conditions, size and skill base of the faculty, coverage of basic topics in the curriculum • Provides a prescription for a minimal core and very general parameters for the rest of the curriculum

  47. Reflections on the Minimal Model • It is easy to install and maintain as long as it adheres to the “minimal” philosophy • Not a bad way to start an accrediting body • Does not encourage continuous improvement • The biggest danger is “mission creep” • More and more requirements

  48. The Regulatory Model • Requires strict adherence to a core curriculum • E.g., defines the minimum requirements for a Software Engineering curriculum • Specifies parameters for the rest of the curriculum • E.g., at least 6 credit hours of post WWII history • Often involving direct prescriptions of curriculum and faculty composition • E.g., “at least three faculty in manufacturing are required if the body of students exceeds 120”

  49. Reflections on the Regulatory Model • Makes the accrediting process uniform and potentially fair • Criteria are unambiguous and often numeric • Difficult to establish and update • Leads to endless strife over what the “core” means • Relatively easy to maintain • The key to success is adherence to clear rules • Was shown to stifle innovation and creativity in the curriculum • This was the philosophy of the pre-2000 ABET model

  50. The Outcome-Based Model • Prescribes a “small” core and basic requirements • Prescribes basic parameters for the goals of the program • But does not specify the specific goals of the program • Focuses on the goals and objectives of the program • E.g., to maximize the number of graduates who continue to Medical or Law school • E.g., to maximize the number of graduates who become program managers in the construction industry • Requires evidence of measurement of goals • Requires evidence of using the measurements to feed a quality improvement process