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.
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.
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.