Chemical Engineering BS
The Department of Chemical Engineering exists to provide strong and unique support of Brigham Young University's mission to "assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life" (BYU Mission Statement). This is to be done through an educational experience that is "spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, and character building, thus fitting students with the skills and desire for lifelong learning and service." (BYU Aims Document). In accordance with the expectations of the Accrediation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the department has developed a set of Program Educational Objectives which describe the career and professional accomplishments that the program is preparing graduates to achieve.
The Chemical Engineering Department's Program Educational Objectives apply to graduates in the years following their graduation. These graduates will:
- Remain committed to and exhibit lives of faith in Jesus Christ and service to family and community (including church).
- Demonstrate effective reasoning and communication skills, continue to be informed about contemporary and global issues, and pursue life-long learning.
- Be effective and innovative in developing and implementing solutions to open-ended problems (technical and/or non-technical), and thereby contribute to the improvement of society. In doing this, graduates will draw on the foundation of a broad university education and of excellent preparation in mathematics, science, and engineering.
- Exemplify sound ethics, be professionally responsible, interact effectively with others, appreciate their contributions, and contribute to their growth and development
As required by ABET (the engineering accreditation agency), the expected Learning Outcomes for the BS degree in Chemical Engineering are listed as a set of Student Outcomes. The Student Outcomes, listed below in blue font, refer to the outcomes which chemical engineering students should possess when they leave the university and enter the workforce. Following each Student Outcome is a non-technical description to help those unfamilar with chemical engineering understand the meaning.
Each course has a set of competencies that are a subset of one or more of the above student outcomes. The compentencies are assessed each semester by the students and course instructors using both direct and indirect measures (see below). During the senior year, students take a Senior Competency Exam which covers competencies that the students need to know without access to reference materials. The students must pass the exam prior to graduation.
1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
Complex Problem Solving
ABET Student Outcome 1
2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
ABET Student Outcome 2
3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
ABET Student Outcome 3
4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
Ethical, Professional, and Personal Responsibilities
ABET Student Outcome 4
5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
Teamwork and Leadership
ABET Student Outcome 5
6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
Experiment and Analysis
ABET Student Outcome 6
7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies
Knowledge and Learning
ABET Student Outcome 7
Evidence of Learning
Program Educational Objectives and Student Outcomes are assessed using both direct and indirect measures. Details of the measures are published in the Proceedings of the 2007 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii with excerpts shown below for Direct and Indirect Measures. In addition to the measures outlined below, additional measures such as one-on-one faculty interviews/advisement, qualification for the professional program (upper division courses), placement data, consultation with an external advisory board, consultation with a student advisory board, informal interviews with recruiters, and interviews with the graduate advisors of former students are used in the assessment process.
Graded Exams, Homework, Reports, and Other Assignments. Assignments administered throughout a course are graded.
Instructor End-of-Course Proficiency Evaluation. The instructor end-of-course evaluation is administered at the end of each chemical engineering course by the instructor. The evaluation assesses student proficiency (on a 0-5 scale) in course competencies and links the proficiency rating to direct evidence from exams, homework, projects, or other measures of performance. For example, a given rating may come directly from the average score on a combination of problems from midterm exams, quizzes, and the final exam that deal specifically with that competency. This specific information is included in the evaluation form. Since instructors focus on specific competencies when preparing in class assessment tools, such as exam and quiz questions, these end-of-course evaluations provide specific and valid (both face and content) measures of student proficiency on specific competencies.
Mandatory-Pass Senior Competency Exam. This exam is given during the senior year and assesses mastery of specific program competencies. In each program course, competencies are designated as Level 1 (exposed but not tested), Level 2 (competent with access to resources), and Level 3 (mastered without access to resources). The Senior Competency Exam tests students on the mastery of Level 3 competencies. The exam, also called the Level 3 or L3 exam, consists of 24 problems covering 24 Level 3 competencies. Level 3 competencies are the kernel concepts of chemical engineering science upon which application, design, and synthesis build. Students pass the L3 exam when not more than one question is answered incorrectly. Students may repeat the exam (for just the missed competencies) two times. If a competency is still missed, students must complete assignments regarding the competency prior to graduation. The students take the exam on-line via a program that generates a unique set of problems for each student from a database of problems. The program scores the exam and provides immediate feedback to the students on any missed competencies as soon as they have completed the exam. This allows the students, in case they have not passed the exam, to study the appropriate competencies for the next taking of the exam. The computer remembers a particular student's missed competencies and generates a new exam with only problems from the missed competencies.
Oral and Written Communication Assessment. The instructors in chemical engineering courses which utilize extensive oral and/or written communication skills (primarily seminar and laboratory courses) are asked to evaluate individual student's abilities in these areas by providing a single composite score ranging from 1 (not proficient) to 4 (proficient). The composite score is based on direct assessments obtained from rubrics or other quantifiable measures. The rubric used in the senior laboratory course has 39 components from which a written report is graded. Similarly, an oral communication rubric has 27 components. This extensive rubric provides detailed feedback to each student. These scores are combined across the several classes involved to provide a composite measure of proficiency for each student.
Critical Thinking Test. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) has been used nationally and internationally for learning outcomes assessment, performance funding, program evaluation, professional development, training, and as an element in application, admissions, and personnel evaluation processes. The CCTST is designed for college students and adults. It has been most widely used with traditional aged college and university undergraduate students. The CCTST is based on the conceptualization of critical thinking articulated in the Expert Consensus Statement on College Level Critical Thinking (1990) known as The Delphi Report.9 This concept was supported by an independent replication research study of policy-makers, employers, and academics which was conducted at Penn State University, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The CCTST Total Score targets the strength or weakness of one's skill in making reflective, reasoned judgments about what to believe or what to do. The CCTST generates several scores relating to critical thinking including a) Overall critical thinking skills total score and Norm-group Percentile, b) Sub-scale scores by the classical categories of Inductive Reasoning and Deductive Reasoning, and c) Sub-scale scores by the contemporary categories of Analysis, Inference, and Evaluation.
Industrial Advisory Board. The IAB is composed of industrial or academic representatives. Feedback is received from the IAB that involves all aspects of the accreditation cycle. Feedback can be particularly useful regarding the definition and evaluation of the educational objectives.
Student Advisory Board. The SAB is composed of undergraduate students. The SAB provides input on program input and helps evaluate the program.
Department Senior Exit Survey. Prior to graduation, students are surveyed with a variety of questions to provide feedback to the program.
Department Student End-of-Course Proficiency Survey. The student end-of-course survey is administered at the end of each chemical engineering course to the students by department personnel. This survey asks students to rate the course based on its contribution to developing proficiency in course competencies and to rate individual student proficiency in these competencies. As an indirect measure this survey does not measure learning directly; however, student perceptions about their proficiency and about what they learned in the course are strongly correlated with learning. This survey also provides insight into the learning environment. Low ratings are reliable indicators of areas that need attention.
In-Class Surveys (Minute Papers). Understanding the effectiveness of classroom activities is an essential component to understanding the how and why of student learning, and to improving the learning environment. Brief survey tools, such as minute papers, can provide real-time insight about specific activities. Questions can target the effectiveness of reading assignments, lectures, handouts, in-class activities, or any aspect of the course on student learning. Typical surveys include a list of activities and ask students to provide a numerical rating on each activity???s effectiveness. Comments and recommendations are also solicited. These surveys are being used with increased frequency in our program and have led to changes in textbooks, modifications of reading assignments, and improvement in class activities. The frequency of assigning minute papers varies with instructor from a few per semester to as frequently as one per week. These surveys are a powerful and easy tool to help optimize the learning environment.
National Survey of Student Engagement. The university has participated annually in this national assessment since its inception in 2000. The survey is viewed as an excellent process measure of the learning environment and assists in providing multifaceted measurement of institutional performance regarding the university???s mission, aims, and objectives. Questions focus on areas of student engagement which empirical research has shown to be predictive of success in achieving important learning outcomes. Student engagement is at the heart of how and why students learn and is a good indicator of what is being learned.
University Student End-of-Course Survey. In addition to the student end-of-course survey written and administered by the department, the university administers a separate end-of course survey to students. This survey allows for more open-ended responses and provides insight into the effectiveness of teaching. Students have an opportunity to respond to the effectiveness of learning activities, fairness of grading procedures, explanation of concepts, usefulness of feedback, degree of student involvement, time spent on homework and reading assignments, etc. Students may also include free-form comments about the course.
BYU Senior Survey. The Senior Survey was developed by a faculty led committee within BYU and measures the extent to which seniors feel their university experience fulfilled the university???s stated mission, aims, and objectives in their lives. The survey is aligned to 24 constructs which operationalize these stated goals. Many of these constructs map to specific program and degree goals. Issues of student engagement such as student-faculty interaction, and active learning experiences, which are closely tied to student learning, are a prominent part of the survey. Other items ask seniors to estimate the impact of their overall experience and specific facets of their undergraduate experience on their spiritual, character and intellectual development. This survey provides a comparison between chemical engineering seniors and all BYU seniors on issues of student engagement and achieving institutional objectives, and indicates that chemical engineering students generally compare favorably with their counterparts across campus.
BYU Alumni Questionnaire. The alumni questionnaire (AQ) is a descriptive instrument that also maps to the 24 constructs incorporated into the Senior Survey that operationalize the university???s stated goals and objectives. Many of these constructs have direct linkage to program goals and intended learning objectives (e.g., communication skills, thinking habits/skills, technological skills, etc.) This questionnaire is administered to alumni three years after graduation and has been administered each year since 2000. The AQ asks alumni to rate themselves on specific, concrete self-descriptive statements and questions derived from official statements of university aims. Other items solicit alumni perceptions of the impact of their undergraduate experiences in terms of their spiritual, character and intellectual development. Academic units also have the latitude to include a limited number of department-specific questions to the base instrument. Free-response items ask alumni to describe significant experiences with faculty members, key learning experiences and areas in which the university can improve.
BYU Employers Survey. The university has also developed and incorporated into its suite of institutional instruments a survey that assesses the perceptions held by employers of the university???s graduates. Specific majors have not been differentiated in the results due to the complexity of many employers hiring from multiple disciplines. The reported level of analysis is at the university level overall, however findings are generalizable at the academic program level.
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
Semester Evaluations: At the end of each semester, the department undergraduate committee reviews all of the faculty and student course assessment documents for that semester. As part of the assessment process, instructors for the courses are also asked to provide information on how the previous year's action items were addressed during the current semester. Student and faculty evaluations are compiled in a relational database so that the analysis can take advantage of many different kinds of comparisons including trends in evaluations with time, instructor, course, etc. The undergraduate committee also compiles a list of action items from this analysis. The evaluation and analysis is shared with all department faculty in a faculty meeting.
Annual Evaluations: The undergraduate committee analyzes data generated from all of the direct and indirect assessment tools listed above annually. If necessary, there are, in general, two kinds of recommendations that are made. The first is a recommendation for modifications in course purpose, educational objectives, and program outcomes that require department faculty consideration. Issues generated from this analysis are added to the action items list generated from the semester evaluations. The faculty at the department retreat then reviews the action list before Fall classes begin. The second is a recommendation for changes in program statement of purpose, goals, and/or curriculum which all require department faculty and subsequent college and university consideration.
Any recommendations for changes in program issues are submitted to the department faculty for consideration. If changes are approved, they are forwarded to the College Curriculum Committee for further consideration and then, if approved, to the University Curriculum Committee.