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Option-Specific Program Outcomes to Meet Biological Engineering Program Criteria

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008824.(doi:10.13031/2013.29733)
Authors:   Garey A Fox, Danielle Bellmer, Ronald L Elliott
Keywords:   ABET, Assessment, Biological Engineering, Degree Options, Performance Criteria, Program Criteria, Program Outcomes.

Program outcomes are defined by ABET as narrow statements that describe the skills that students should possess at the time of graduation. ABET specifies a set of outcomes that should be met by all engineering programs. In order to demonstrate that the curriculum adequately meets specific program criteria, one alternative is to define additional outcomes with respect to the program criteria. Many traditional agricultural engineering programs must now meet ABET-defined program criteria for biological engineering. While these departments are offering curricula aimed at achieving an advanced knowledge of biology, chemistry, and engineering sciences, departments may also wish to continue to offer agricultural engineering subject matter to meet the needs of their constituents. Within a single degree program, this creates an interesting merge between conventional agricultural engineering and modern biological engineering curricula. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate how one department is attempting to merge these emphases and satisfy ABET accreditation. The Biosystems Engineering program at Oklahoma State University attempts to meet both needs through four degree options. To meet the biological engineering program criteria and advanced knowledge of biology and chemistry in each option, option-specific outcome statements and performance criteria were defined. Each option-specific outcome states that students should have an ability to apply the physical, chemical, biological, and engineering sciences to solve problems at the interface of biology and engineering relative to the options emphasis. The program believes that this strategy appropriately recognizes the differential definition of advanced biology and chemistry and a working knowledge of advanced biological sciences in the curriculum. A two-tiered assessment approach is then used to assess required ABET outcomes and the programs option-specific outcome. This approach appears to lessen additional work load on faculty members relative to accreditation while at the same time investigating specific details of any curriculum concerns that arise from assessment and evaluation.

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