- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) is the primary organization responsible for monitoring, evaluating and certifying the quality of engineering, engineering technology, computing and applied sciences education in the United States. In 2000, ABET changed the way computer science (and engineering) programs are accredited from a ‘checklist’ approach to an ‘outcomes-based’ approach.
This approach is more flexible in that it allows the program to set its own objectives including expected outcomes that its graduates will meet. Although this approach gives more freedom to the program to establish its own set of objectives, it has also created considerable anxiety among people who are responsible for preparing their programs for accreditation. The primary reason for this anxiety is that ABET provides a set of guidelines for interpretation of these criteria; however they are not detailed leaving room for much ambiguity and subjectivity.
A program will be initially evaluated based on the data submitted in the Self-Study Report that describes how the program satisfies the criteria. This is followed by an on-site visit by a team of evaluators. This visit is required to gauge various factors that can’t be adequately covered in Self-Study report. Further it provides an opportunity to look at the facilities and other required criteria in more detail. Based on the recommendations of the team, ABET decides on whether or not to accredit the program.
The Self-Study Report plays major role in the ABET accreditation process. However, preparation of the Report has become more difficult with the change to an outcomes-based approach. We have developed model of ideal program based on CAC guidelines and standards. Using the model, we have come up with a tool that assesses the thoroughness and completeness of the Report compared to the model. The tool outputs a report pointing out possible problem areas. Programs seeking accreditation can use the tool prior to submitting the Report to the evaluation team.