I would like to offer some comments on "Measure
for Measure" by Alvin P. Sanoff (January 2005)
and perhaps put the effort to develop assessment practice
in engineering education within a wider historical context.
"The thought that Alverno's approach
could be helpful to engineering administrators and faculty
striving (and in some cases struggling) to meet revised
standards adopted by ABET," to quote Frank Huband,
should not really be strange to them. Indeed, three
decades ago, when Alverno was in the starting phase
of instituting its assessment and outcomes programs,
the Cooper Union School of Engineering received a 20-month
grant from the Mellon Foundation to study and propose
a new approach to the engineering curriculum. In the
process of this work, we attended workshops and consulted
with the administration and faculty at Alverno. The
result was a report: "Synthesis of a Holistic
Approach to Professional Education (SHAPE)" that
led to a three-year grant from NSF to institute a limited
Lee Harrisburger, a former president of ASEE, then
Visiting Mellon Professor of Engineering at the Cooper
Union; Chor W. Tan, then dean of engineering; myself
as director of the project as well as an interdisciplinary
faculty group worked closely with Alverno to develop
our program. This work was fully documented in report
and conference papers in between 1975 and 1985. Here
is a partial list of papers that I published that may
be helpful to the struggling "engineering administrators
and faculty who wonder about how what Alverno does can
be translated into engineering education":
- "Professional Competence Development
in Engineering Education" (with C.W. Tan). Paper
presented at the World Conference on Education in Applied
Engineering and Engineering Technology, Cologne, West
Germany, April 16-20, 1984. Published in The International
Journal of Applied Engineering Education, Vol.
I, 1985. [pp. 253-258]
- "Psychological Functions As
a Basis for a Taxonomy of Educational Objectives in
Competence Programs – Toward a Systematic Approach."
Proceedings of the 1980 ASEE Annual Conference.
- "Competence Definitions and
Assessment Plan in a Competence Oriented Program"
(with A. Rakow). Proceedings of the 1978 Frontiers in
Education Conference, University of Florida.
- "A Plan for a Holistic Approach
to Professional Education." Report to the Andrew
W. Mellon Foundation, October 1977.
For more recent work on assessment at the Cooper Union,
you can consult "Measuring Performance in Engineering
Education: Assessment and the quest for Best Practices
at the Cooper Union.
Jean Le Mée,
Emeritus Professor of Engineering
The Cooper Union
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