Continuous Assessment and Program Improvement Process Summary Report – Dec., 2011
The Mechanical Engineering Department at Tennessee Tech University has had a Continuous Assessment and Program Improvement process in place for its Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) degree since the inception of "ABET 2000", the continuous improvement process mandated by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology) for all accredited engineering programs. Since then, the M.E. Department has undergone two Assessment cycles (2002 & 2008), receiving the maximum possible re-accreditation period of 6 years from both visits. Since then, the M.E. Department's Continuous Assessment and Improvement System has evolved into a very mature and systematic process of regular data collection using a variety of assessment tools, review of the data obtained from these tools on a yearly basis, followed by periodic recommendations to the M.E. Faculty and Department Chair for program improvements and actions to be taken. A number of program improvements have thus been made based on the data obtained from this assessment process.
The M.E. Department also offers a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) degree, and participates actively in the College-level PhD program in Engineering. The quality of these two programs is monitored periodically (every 5 years) by a program Academic Review by THEC (Tennessee Higher Education Commission), the governing body for higher education institutions in Tennessee. Since the Academic Review is not a true Continuous Improvement Process, both the MSME program in the M.E. Department and the PhD program in the College of Engineering are in the process of changing over to the TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents) "Academic Audit" as the form of program review to be used in the future. The Academic Audit is a Continuous Improvement Process, in which assessment tools are to be adopted, data collected, and program improvements are to be made based on the results. The first review of the MSME program under the Academic Audit process is scheduled for Spring, 2013; hence, the department is currently involved in identifying those assessment tools and methods which will be the most usual for improvement of the graduate program.
BSME Program – Summary of Continuous Improvement Process, Assessment Tools, Results, and Program Improvements/Actions Taken
As mentioned in the previous section, the Continuous Improvement process for the BSME program is governed by the requirements of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, with the most recent on-campus visit being in Fall of 2008. The Department did very well in this visit, with no program Deficiencies, Weaknesses, or Concerns being noted. Consequently, the BSME program received the maximum accreditation period of 6 years before the next scheduled review in Fall of 2014. For full details of the Continuous Improvement Process for the BSME program up to 2008, please refer to the two volume ABET 2008 Report. In particular, see the following sections:
Criterion 2: Program Educational Objective
Criterion 3: Program Outcomes
Criterion 4: Continuous Improvement Assessment Tools
A summary of the data collected and recommendations for program improvement since 2008, please see the "Mid-Cycle Review", a report by the M.E. Department's Goals and Assessments Committee on data collected through Spring, 2011, the mid-cycle point of of six-year ABET cycle.
As discussed in the "Overview" section, the THEC Academic Review previously utilized for the MSME (as well as the College-level PhD program) is a program quality monitoring tool, not one a process for continuous program improvement. MS_Program_Review_2008_Self_Study_Report.pdf. However, the department is currently in the beginning stages of developing such a Continuous Improvement Process for its MSME program, as well as its contribution to the PhD program, in preparation for a 2013 Spring visit and evaluation by TBR under the requirements of its "Academic Audit" Continuous Improvement process. Details of the requirements of the Academic Audit can be found at: http://tbr.edu/offices/academicaffairs.aspx?id=3178