UB - University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Chemical and Biological Engineering

Process for Establishing and Revising Program Outcomes

In 1997 the Department began a process of strategic planning that would cover all aspects of its function. In a series of meetings and retreats covering a broad range of topics, the faculty formulated broadly stated objectives for our mission and vision. A formal Mission Statement was adopted that year, and taken as the philosophical basis for the development of more detailed plans for the activities and growth of the department. The Mission Statement implicitly identifies the external constituencies served by the faculty’s activities, and accordingly these groups were considered in the formulation of the Department’s objectives and plans to meet them. Among these considerations was the implementation of the undergraduate program. Thus initial consideration of the Program Outcomes (PO) presented here was taken. Many external inputs fed their formation, some implicit and some explicit.

First, the Department already had in place a curriculum (of course), which had been fashioned over many years using the judgment of the faculty with input from industry representatives. For some time in the early 1990’s the Department worked with an Industrial Advisory Board that was formally constituted for finite period with the purpose to assess and advise on the Department’s practices. This activity was part of the basis of the curriculum that was in place when the process to formalize the Mission and Program Outcomes was begun, and this curriculum naturally formed the starting point for our process. Additionally, as an ongoing practice the faculty actively seek advice and feedback from on-campus recruiters, employers and local industry representatives, regarding their interests in our educational process. All of these inputs were consolidated in our faculty meetings and retreats, and coupled with the faculty’s judgment to formulate the Program Outcomes for our educational process, all of which was in place and approved during our accreditation visit in 2002.

The assessment and evaluation of our PO is depicted in Loop III of our continuous improvement process. As indicated in the figure, faculty make decisions regarding the revision of the PO. Faculty judgment is fed from many external sources, only some of which is direct input from constituencies. Additional sources include

  • all faculty are actively engaged in research activities, and gain awareness of trends in chemical engineering through these efforts
  • attendance at national and international conferences permits interactions with colleagues and ample opportunities for discussions of trends in the discipline
  • a regular seminar series in which both academic and industrial speakers visit the Department and spend the day in discussions with faculty on a wide range of topics
  • library and individual subscriptions to journals and magazines (such as Science, C&E News, Chemical Engineering Education) that report on current events of relevance to the educational program
  • perusal and adoption of new textbooks in courses taught, and the consequent introduction of new topics to the courses

As indicated in our continuous improvement schematic , the results from assessment of our PEO also inform the revision of the PO. Deficiencies in the attainment of our PEO may in principle be traced either to the formulation or execution of our PO, so such deficiencies (or the lack of them) can be used to guide the PO revision process.