(372q) A Web-Based Database-Driven Assessment Management Tool

Errington, J. R., University at Buffalo
Schultz, A. J., University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
Human, C., University at Buffalo, SUNY
Kofke, D. A., University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
Engineering departments routinely perform and document certain tasks that foster a cycle of continuous improvement. Such a process is designed to focus the educational program and maintain its quality. A well designed process requires collecting, organizing, and analyzing information from many people. Cooperation from the faculty is essential to an effective process, and this is assured only to the extent that the process is made simple and efficient. A thoughtful application of modern information technology can foster this outcome. Many departments have developed ad hoc solutions through application of off-the-shelf computer-based tools, such as spreadsheets, that really are not that well suited for the task. We describe how we have instead developed a tool from scratch that is tailor-made to address the data-management requirements of the assessment process.

The system operates through a web interface, which enables distributed access for uploading of data and management of the process. Behind the interface is a tightly integrated database, which stores many pieces of information relating to the program, its goals, its performance in meeting those goals, and documentation thereof. All of this information can be contributed and viewed by faculty, and managed by faculty and staff who oversee the process. The collected data can subsequently be analyzed using integrated tools, which facilitate the process of identifying and addressing shortcomings in the program, or conversely, identifying elements that are effective. This system has been deployed to almost all departments in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and it is currently being evaluated by several other chemical engineering departments at other universities.

In this presentation we describe the software system and the assessment framework within which it operates.