Outcomes Assessment Program
MOTTO: TO DO THE RIGHT THING, THE RIGHT WAY, FOR THE RIGHT REASON AT THE RIGHT TIME AND AT THE LOWEST EVALUATED COST, IS THE KEY TO QUALITY OF LIFE.(1)
Ignorance means not only not to know what human beings should know and to know what they should not know, but even worse, not to know the difference. Everybody should know how to think critically and use it as the preferred tool to determine the validity of all statements made and to discover the truth in every circumstance in life. By the same way, everybody should not know how to adopt as a truth any superstition or prejudice nor anything that negates truths scientifically proven.
Knowledge, as Plato defined it, is the subset that represents the intersection of the set of universal truths and the set of personal beliefs. If this premise is correct we need to be very careful. There are a lot of universal truths that we do not know and do not trust, and at the same time, there are millions of beliefs which are not true but the human beings rest on them for their success and well-being.
Precisely, to defeat ignorance in all its dimensions, including low quality of life, and acquiring the corresponding knowledge while developing the appropriate skills, attitudes and values, the institutions of higher education have the mandate to develop and enforce outcomes assessment procedures to evaluate the institutional effectiveness as well as the student learning, and educational effectiveness. The purpose is to have the assurance that students learn to think critically so that they never again accept a false statement as a universal truth or vice-versa and be able to delete all false beliefs from their minds.
PUPR bases its assessment program on the following definitions taken from section II. D. 1. of the ABET Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual.
- Program Educational Objectives – Program educational objectives are broad statements that describe the career and professional accomplishments that the program is preparing graduates to achieve.
- Program Outcomes – Program outcomes are narrower statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire in their matriculation through the program.
- Assessment – Assessment is one or more processes that identify, collect, and prepare data to evaluate the achievement of program outcomes and program educational objectives.
- Evaluation – Evaluation is one or more processes for interpreting the data and evidence accumulated through assessment practices. Evaluation determines the extent to which valid program outcomes or program educational objectives are being achieved, and results in decisions and actions to improve the program.
PUPR is fully committed to comply with the highest standards of accreditation put forth by the applicable accrediting agencies with the objective that the assessment of student learning will demonstrate that, at graduation, or other appropriate points, the institution’s students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and appropriate higher education goals.
PUPR’s Outcomes Assessment Program goal is to satisfy all our stakeholders’ inquiries about their need to know about PUPR achievements regarding the outcomes assessment and evaluation of our teaching-learning process in all concerned-disciplines. Our principal accrediting stakeholders are:
- a) Education Council of Puerto Rico (ECPR), the local government licensing agency;
- b) Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), national accrediting agency which through its affirmative action, allows PUPR to access federal funds;
- c) Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), agency that at the national level accredits programs in Engineering, Technology, Applied Science, and Computing;
- d) National Architectural Accrediting Agency (NAAB), the agency at the national level that accredits the programs in architecture;
- e) International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), the agency that at international level accredits the School of Management and its graduate and undergraduate levels.
- f) Landscape Architectural Accrediting Agency (LAAB)
Other important stakeholders are:
- Employers: public and private
- Parents of students
- Graduate schools
- Puerto Rican society
- USA society
- World society
After defining the program outcomes and making sure they are the correct ones, teaching should follow those closely in order to educate the students in accordance to the commitment made.
Outcome-based education(2) means clearly focusing and organizing everything in an educational system around what is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences. This means starting with a clear picture of what is important for students to be able to do, then organizing curriculum, instruction, and assessment to make sure this learning ultimately happens.
The keys to having an outcome-based system are:
- Developing a clear set of learning outcomes around which all of the system’s components can be focused.
- Establishing the conditions and opportunities within the system that enable and encourage all students to achieve those essential outcomes.
For more than a century our educational system was based on a time frame. The K to 12 school system was based on nine months of class. The University system was based on eight semesters of class. These time frames are standard. The educational system was defined, organized, structured, focused, operated, and everything was decided based on the time frame.
Outcome-based education means defining, deciding, organizing, structuring, focusing and operating the system pinpointing what the students will be able to master successfully at the culminating point in their education, that is, the exit outcomes.
The paradigm of Outcome-based education promotes WHAT is learned and WHETHER it is learned well, rather than WHEN and HOW students learn it.
Two key purposes of outcome-based education are:
- Ensuring that all students are equipped with knowledge, competence and qualities needed to be successful after they exit the educational system.
- Structuring and operating the educational system so that those outcomes can be achieved and maximized for all students.
These two purposes are based on three key assumptions or premises, supported by voluminous research and over 30 years of educators’ practice. They are:
- All students can learn and succeed but not on the same day in the same way taking in consideration learning rates and learning styles.
- Successful learning promotes even more successful learning.
- The educational system controls the conditions that directly affect successful learning.
Four principles of decision making and action guide those who implement outcome-based education. These four principles are considered the heart of outcome-based education.
The principles are:
- Clarity of focus on culminating exit outcomes of significance.
- Expanded opportunity and support for learning success.
- High expectations for all to succeed.
- Design down from your ultimate culminating outcomes.
(2) Spady, William G., Outcome-Based Education: critical Issues and Answers - American Association of School Administrators
1 Stephen R. Covey, et al First Things First, Simon Schuster, 1994; page 144