Transitioning to Outcome Based Education: Optimizing the Mapping of Graduate Attribute Indicators to the Curriculum of the School of Engineering Science

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Michael Sjoerdsma, School of Engineering Science

Project team: Charlie Yan, research assistant

Timeframe: January to December 2013

Funding: $10,000

Course addressed: The courses required for the degree of Bachelor of Applied Science in the School of Engineering Science

Final report: View Michael Sjoerdsma’s final report (PDF).

From the final report: “At the time this database was being created, the SFU version of Canvas did not easily support learning outcomes at the program level. Moreover, not all instructors use Canvas, so we can’t rely entirely on this LMS. However, I would still like to investigate how we can integrate Canvas into our data collection  procedure for those instructors who use it already.”  Read more >>

Interim report: View Michael Sjoerdsma’s interim report (PDF), which discusses the work completed through August 2013.

From the interim report: “I presented to faculty the shortcomings of our current mapping, and why we needed to standardize course offerings with respect to indictors. Instead of having faculty members fill out forms online, I felt that having the instructors for each course come together in person would foster more discussion.” Read more >>

Description: As mandated by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), the School of Engineering Science (ENSC) is transitioning to an Outcome Based Education (OBE) method for assessing our program. This new procedure must be in place for 2014, and we have just completed our first iteration of this process, which now must be refined.

Under this new system, each engineering school in Canada must demonstrate that students possess twelve attributes upon graduation (knowledge base for engineering; problem analysis; investigation; design; use of engineering tools; individual and team work; communication skills; professionalism; impact of engineering on society and the environment; ethics and equity; economics and project management; life-long learning).  The twelve attributes include a subset of indicators (e.g. the investigation attribute has indicators, which include idea generation, investigation design, data collection, data analysis and integration, and evaluation).

The main purpose of this project is to design and implement a computer program that can determine optimal solutions for our indicator mappings in the curriculum. The output of the program will be graphs and tables showing where in our curriculum each indicator should be covered. The program will also archive where in our program indicators are being assessed. It will also serve as a survey tool where faculty can input the indicators that they are covering.

Having a method for refining and optimizing our mapping of indicators to courses is essential for meeting the 2014 deadline imposed by CEAB. The only way to meet this goal is to have custom software designed that can generate several solutions to this mapping program. Such software will allow us to ensure that the indicators are being mapped to the most appropriate courses, helping to keep faculty members’ workloads at a manageable level, ensuring that students are being assessed in the correct courses, and allowing us to revise our curriculum in the most efficient manner possible. This software will be of benefit to all courses and faculty members in the School of Engineering Science.

Questions addressed:

  • What is the optimal mapping of indicators based on various parameters while ensuring an equitable workload amongst faculty members?
  • How can we incorporate our mandatory co-op program into our mapping?
  • How can we ensure that each of our engineering options is in compliance with all twelve attributes and their associated indicators?
  • How can we incorporate other methods of assessment, such as student surveys, alumni surveys, and faculty surveys?
  • How can we refine our curriculum and pedagogical practices at the program and course levels?
  • How can we standardize course offerings between different instructors of the same course?

Knowledge sharing: The outcome of this project will be disseminated in faculty meetings, to the undergraduate curriculum committee, and the director of MSE.  The results may be shared with the Engineering Graduate Attribute Development (EGAD) project that are providing resources to engineering schools across Canada.