PRISM - American Society for Engineering Education - Logo - MARCH 2005 - VOLUME 14, NUMBER 7
A Humanities Plot? Alverno and Assessment

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 competency-based program.

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, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Engineering
The Cooper Union

What do you think?
Send comments to Because of space limitations, not all submissions can be published, and those that are may be abridged.


A CLICK AWAY - By Barbara Mathias-Riegel
YOU CALL THIS SCHOOL? - By Pierre Home-Douglas
horizontal line
REFRACTIONS: Keeping Things in Perspective - By Henry Petroski
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT - Engineers seeking advancement are getting degrees in engineering management. - By Alice Daniel
BOOK NOTES: Getting Smart
TEACHING: Making Them Want to Stay - By Phillip Wankat & Frank Oreovicz
ON CAMPUS: The Write Time and Place - By Robert Gardner
LAST WORD: Inside Washington - By Jim Turner

3rd Nano Training Bootcamp - July 12 - 15, 2005 - Washington D.C.


ASEE logo