PUC

MAR PÉREZ, EDUCATION DIRECTOR, ENGINEERING PUC:

“Only if you digitize your curriculum information and the achievements of your students can you make informed decisions regarding how to improve your study plans.”
Digitization of all curriculum management information and identification of those areas in which targets were not being met were key steps towards achieving their objective.

According to the QS World University Rankings, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile occupies first place in Latin America, and its School of Engineering is ranked 32nd globally. With 125 years of experience, PUC has 5,500 students and more than 170 teachers across its undergraduate, postgraduate diploma, Master’s and doctoral programs.

In order to boost international visibility of its high-quality programs, in 2018, the School of Engineering decided to seek accreditation from ABET, a prestigious non-profit, non-governmental organization recognized by the United States’ Council for Higher Education Accreditation, specializing in accreditation of applied sciences, natural sciences, information technology, and engineering programs.

ABET accreditation is voluntary and currently held by more than 4,307 programs from over 846 higher education institutions around the world, confirming that their programs comply with the highest quality standards in the professions for which they are preparing their students.

The Challenge

One of the requirements for ABET accreditation is continuous measurement of student learning outcomes over the course of their academic career. To achieve this, the School of Engineering needed to collect data continuously and convert it into key evidence concerning the results obtained by students.

In order to demonstrate the quality of the courses and training on offer to students, PUC needed to be able to collect evidence regarding student performance and relate it to detailed information about the curriculum, course programs, and the corresponding syllabuses. In short, the School of Engineering needed to be able to monitor progress in the development of competencies and to have at their disposal a tool or procedure that would allow them to visualize the information and use it to guide improvements to their educational programs at all curricular levels (macro, meso and micro).

In order to achieve this, one of the main challenges was digitization of the management process from start to finish. “Initially, all of our management was done manually. At the beginning of the course, we conducted workshops with the teachers. They filled out the competency matrix on paper and we then entered the information into Excel,” explains Mar Pérez, Education Director at the School of Engineering.

As such, the course documentation process was expensive and there was no central location in which to consult program descriptions. The School therefore needed to be able to collect information, organize and present it logically and consistently, and make it available to ABET. It was for this task that the decision was taken to implement uAssessment, the curriculum management solution from uPlanner.

Work Carried Out

Implementation of the uAssessment solution enabled the School of Engineering to construct a repository of course documents and information relating to competency development. Aside from consolidating all of the information in one place, this facilitated continuous reporting on those areas in which expected objectives are not being achieved and, as such, require improvement. Students, teachers and assistants all have access to the repository, enabling them to monitor the execution of study plans.

In addition, uAssessment enabled the creation of a system for reporting the grades achieved by students in assessments linked to graduate competencies. This has served as a means of gathering evidence relating to accreditation and provides information for use in discussions with teachers regarding the performance of their students.

The School of Engineering needed to be able to monitor competency development and to have at their disposal a means of making that information available to guide decision-making regarding improvements to the curriculum.

The Results

  • With all of the information collected and organized using uAssessment,

    the PUC School of Engineering were able to rationalize criteria for the construction of its course programs, improving the alignment of course objectives with the graduate profile based on student results. In addition, they were able to present the information required by ABET in an orderly and consistent manner and ultimately secure accreditation.

  • As well as helping the School of Engineering to secure ABET accreditation,

    uAssessment has provided them with a better overview of their performance. “If you don’t digitize the information and process it in a formal and standardized manner, you can’t make comparisons with previous years. This tool not only simplifies processes and makes them more agile—it also provides us with an overview of previous years and years to come, enabling us to make far more informed decisions,” explains Mar Pérez.

  • Ultimately,

    implementation of uAssessment has helped to reduce workloads for personnel tasked with assembling evidence for the accreditation process, and this has improved willingness on the part of teachers and students to engage in processes of this kind, which otherwise would be highly tedious and demanding.