A global accreditation framework to enhance quality assurance in engineering education.

2017-01-16T22:31:14Z (GMT) by Patil, Arun Shripati
The rationale of this research thesis is to identify the gaps in accreditation criteria and to develop a well-structured, globally adaptive, systematic, transparent accreditation framework for quality assurance in engineering education. In engineering education, accreditation involves the assessment of educational programs against defined accreditation criteria. A review of the literature shows that although various accreditation frameworks have recently been developed and implemented to assess engineering courses using the criteria, there are however serious gaps in the assessment and accreditation process. Most of these frameworks lack uniformity or non-equivalence in standards as well as being too complex and non-transparent. Most of these frameworks cater for national engineering education systems and there are no reports in the literature of the development and successful implementation of a trans-national or international accreditation framework in engineering. Furthermore, these frameworks do not assess all of the essential elements of the educational process cycle, i.e. the input, the teaching and learning and the output. Other limitations are; the problems associated with 'outcomes' based assessment criteria are not always comprehensively measured student learning outcomes. There are difficulties in obtaining the performance data, such as the assessment of graduate attributes or competencies, graduate employability and industry feedback. The engineering graduate attributes (outcomes) are not clearly defined and not sufficiently monitored in the assessment criteria. The assessment data for the graduate attributes and graduate outcomes is generally not well documented. As a result, the existing engineering criteria developed by worldwide accreditation bodies to accredit engineering programs do not assess adequate engineering graduate competencies. The thesis provides a way forward with important insights on the engineering graduate competencies with a case study from Monash University's employer survey for engineering graduates. Based on the literature review, review of existing accreditation frameworks and findings on employer survey on engineering graduate competencies, the following research statements are formulated in this project: • The existing accreditation frameworks developed and implemented worldwide in engineering education are not equivalent or comparable (uniform). • The criteria developed and applied for engineering program accreditation neglect the educational process cycle as a whole. • There is no clear-cut and comprehensive assessment of engineering graduate competencies incorporated in the engineering accreditation criteria. The Thesis outlines and describes the design and development of a global accreditation framework in engineering based on the gap analysis from the literature review and from the findings on engineering graduate competencies based on employer survey. The subsequently developed Global Accreditation Framework is a comprehensive mechanism for ensuring consistent accreditation standards for quality assurance in engineering education and comprises all three parts of the educational cycle, namely; input, teaching/learning and output. This framework will provide a common framework of standards for engineering accreditation in the global context and also provides important insights on the engineering graduate competencies. The application of the developed Framework in six engineering institutions from the Asia-Pacific countries, namely; Australia, Malaysia and India, is described in this Thesis. A field work data collection and the in-depth discussion on the findings of the fieldwork data analysis are also presented. At the end, important conclusions and future work in the direction of research are derived and possible challenges as well as implementation strategies for the developed accreditation framework are discussed.