Curricular Improvement: An analogy to engineering practice
In closed-loop control of engineering systems, actual outcomes are compared to intended outcomes (goals or targets). When a measure is found to be off-target, a decision process is in place to generate a corrective action plan. The corrective action plan is implemented and the new outcomes are monitored. Our process for closing-the-loop on curricula and programs includes the same steps: goal setting (intended outcomes), measurement (assessment of actual outcomes), ongoing comparison of assessment data to intended outcomes, generation of corrective action plans, implementation of corrective action plans, and follow-up on corrective action plans.
The CoE process for closing-the-loop on curricula and programs includes the same steps:
- Goal setting (intended outcomes set by programs)
- Measurement (assessment of actual outcomes by programs and CoE college-wide assessment
- Ongoing comparison of assessment data to intended outcomes (by programs)
- Generation of corrective action plans (by programs)
- Implementation of corrective action plans (by programs)
- Follow-up on corrective action plans (by programs).
Assessment is intended to identify where the curricula are on-target or off-target to support curricular adjustments, much like measurement to support process adjustments for closed-loop control of engineering systems. Just as engineering systems are maintained at peak effectiveness through adjustments based on measurements in a closed-loop control system, our undergraduate curricula will be maintained at peak effectiveness through adjustments based on assessment measurements.
Perspective on assessment implied by this analogy
The key to maintaining curricular effectiveness is curricular adjustment based on measurements (i.e., assessments). Assessments only focus attention on aspects of the curriculum that are off-target. All presentations of CoE assessment results are set in the context of this perspective on curricular improvement and all CoE assessment projects are intended to support faculty in "closing-the-loop" of their feedback systems for improving curricula.