Program Quality Plan

Construction Program Assessment Tools

Evaluation of program objectives and achievement of Student Learning Outcomes is a major responsibility of the faculty. The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, research, and those aspects of student vitality that are related to the educational process. The assessment of program objectives and how these objectives help achieve the program’s mission is accomplished using the following mechanisms:

  1. The Civil Engineering and Construction Executive Council
    The department has a unique leadership structure in that each faculty is expected to lead. Furthermore, each program offered by our department is assigned a program head that serves on the departmental Executive Council. Currently, the Council is composed of Dr. Robert Fuessle, head of the Civil Engineering program, Dr. Souhail Elhouar, head of the Construction Program, and Dr. Kris Maillacheruvu, head of the CEC Undergraduate Program Management, and Dr. Kerrie Schattler, head of the CEC Graduate Program. The Executive Council serves as the assessment committee in our department and help sets the agenda for future programmatic revisions and new initiatives.

  2. Advisory Board
    We have a large advisory board composed of around 40 professionals from across the United States. This board meets annually to make recommendations relative to a variety of issues facing our department including program development and alumni relations. The Board plays a critical role and provides valuable input to ensure continued programmatic improvements. It is composed of a Construction Group and a Civil Engineering Group. Each of these groups meet annually to address issues, challenges, and new initiatives identified by the CEC faculty through the assessment processes.

  3. Alumni and Industry Network
    Our department developed a very significant network with industry and alumni throughout the State of Illinois. Members of the various organizations involved in this network are in constant communication with the department and actively participate in joint functions. The input received from our alumni and industrial partners helps our department with the assessment process and data gathering.

  4. Accrediting Agencies
    The department offers two academic programs at the Undergraduate level. The Civil Engineering program is accredited by the accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and the Construction program is accredited by the American Council for Construction Education.   Over the years, input received from the visiting teams and through Final Statements helped augment our assessment process and identified weaknesses in our academic programs. The input received provided valuable insights into concerns and helped us address weaknesses.

  5. The CEC Retreat
    The officers of the five student organizations in our department are often invited to discuss issues and concerns that are relevant to their education and extracurricular activities. Students are presented with summaries of the assessment forms for continuing students and are asked to respond to the 10 lowest scores given on the evaluations. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn directly from our students the issues and concerns that they face and gives the department the opportunity to fix some problems immediately and address others in a timely manner.

  6. The CEC Exit Interview
    The graduating seniors in our department are invited to discuss issues and concerns on annual basis. Students are presented with summaries of the assessment forms for senior students and are asked to respond to the 10 lowest scores given on the evaluations. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn directly from our students the issues and concerns that they face and gives the department the opportunity to take corrective actions.

  7. Service and Outreach Programs
    The department has developed an intense focus on leadership and community service. Students, faculty, alumni and board members work together on a variety of community programs. Such programs provide us with valuable opportunities to interact with employers, alumni and community leaders in order to assess and improve program objectives. For example, the Bridge-Pals program is celebrating its 20th year and involves middle school and high school students being invited annually from within 100 miles radius of Peoria to help them learn more about bridge building. 

Assessment of Program Objectives

The assessment of the Construction Program’s objectives and how these objectives help achieve the program’s mission is accomplished using the following indirect measures:

Assessment Tools Frequency of Use Data Collection Procedure
Senior Exit Surveys Once a year Survey forms are distributed to all the students in the capstone senior project class to ensure every student participates and participates only once.  
Senior Exit Interviews Once a year Senior exit interviews are conducted after the results of the Senior Exit Surveys are tallied. The students are asked to comment on the items receiving the ten lowest scores.  
Employers Surveys Once every three years Survey forms are distributed to employers attending the job fair. The department follows up with each of them to make sure they return the filled form.
Alumni Surveys Once every three years Survey forms are distributed to alumni attending the job fair. Also the department reaches out to alumni not attending the job fair and requests of them to fill out the survey forms
Freshman Surveys Once every three years Survey forms are distributed to the students in their respective classes. Faculty follow up with the students to make sure they return their filled out forms.
Continuing Students (sophomores and juniors) Surveys Once every three years Survey forms are distributed to the students in their respective classes. Faculty follow up with the students to make sure they return their filled out forms.
Advisory Board Surveys Once every three years Survey forms are distributed to members of the Advisory Board, typically at the Advisory Board Meeting
Faculty Surveys Once every three years Survey forms are distributed to the faculty.   The department administrative assistant follows up with the faculty to make sure they return their filled out forms.

 

Assessment of Program Learning Outcomes

Assessment Tools Frequency of Use Data Collection Procedure
Direct Measures:
Assessments of Student Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes Every time a course related to the assessment of a specific SLO is taught during a regular semester Assessment data is shared with the Construction Program Head by the faculty teaching the course.
Indirect Measures:
Senior Surveys Once a year SLO survey forms are distributed to all the students in the capstone senior project class to ensure every student participates and participates only once.  
Alumni Surveys Once a year SLO survey forms are distributed to alumni one year after they graduate.   The CEC Placement Director keeps track of the alumni and follows up with them to make sure they fill out the form and return it.
Employer Surveys Once a year SLO survey forms are distributed to employers one year after they first hire Construction Program graduates.   The CEC Placement Director follows up with them to make sure they fill out the form and return it.


Assessment Perfomrance Criteria

  1. Each program objective is given a score between 1 and 5 from each constituent group. The goal of the Construction Program is to achieve a weighted score of 4.25/5.0 for Objective I, Leadership in Construction, and a weighted score of 4.0/5.0 for the other three objectives.
  2. The faculty in each course set the performance criteria for the direct assessment of the achievement of student learning outcomes. The measure is the number of students meeting the criterion divided by the total number of students in the class. The construction faculty have agreed to use the criterion that if 80% or more of the students score 70% or better on the work that is used as an assessment instrument, then the learning outcome is achieved. Moreover, if a learning outcome is assessed in more than one course, then it is considered achieved if its requirements are met in at least one of the courses where it is being assessed.
  3. For the indirect assessment of the learning outcomes, a learning outcome is considered achieved if the weighted average of the scores from each group reaches the threshold of 4.0/5.0.

Evaluation Methodology used for Data Collection

Assessment data is collected as per the procedures described above. Once the data is collected, it is shared with the Construction Program Head who records it into an Excel workbook and keeps the forms for the record. The analysis of collected data for the purpose of assessing the achievement of program objectives and learning outcomes is set to take place every three years.

Program Objectives Assessment Results

Assessment data is collected as per the procedures described above. Once the data is collected, it is shared with the Construction Program Head who records it into an Excel workbook and keeps the forms for the record. The analysis of collected data for the purpose of assessing the achievement of program objectives and learning outcomes is set to take place every three years.

Objective I: Leadership in Construction

Graduates understand the need for teamwork, communication skills, integrity, good citizenship, and service. They have the needed knowledge to become leaders in the construction industry.

The construction program’s goal is to achieve a weighted score of 4.25/5.00 for this objective when evaluated by constituents. The data below indicates the actual score achieved in the most recent assessment cycle conducted during 2015-2016, and a comparison with the scores achieved in 2009-2010 is provided.

CONSTITUENT Objective I 2010 SCORE Objective I 2016 SCORE NUMBER OF 2016 RESPONDENTS
FRESHMEN 2.01 3.58 ↑ 8
CONTINUING STUDENTS 3.67 3.83 ↑ 37
SENIORS 3.77 3.91 ↑ 21
ALUMNI 4.08 3.98 ↓ 32
FACULTY 4.44 4.26 13
ADVISORY BOARD 4.67 4.56 17
EMPLOYERS 4.04 4.10 12
Weighted Score 3.97 4.01  
Simple Score 3.81 4.03 ↑  

The Construction Program did not achieve its goal with respect to Objective I.

Objective II: Professional Achievement

Graduates have the needed understanding of ethical responsibilities, certification, the necessity for continuing education, and contemporary issues required for placement and career advancement.

The construction program’s goal is to achieve a weighted score of 4.00/5.00 for this objective evaluated by constituents. The data below indicates the actual score achieved in the most recent assessment cycle conducted during 2015-2016, and a comparison with the scores achieved in 2009-2010 is provided. 

CONSTITUENT Objective II 2010 SCORE Objective II 2016 SCORE NUMBER OF 2016 RESPONDENTS
FRESHMEN 4.75 4.18 8
CONTINUING STUDENTS 3.71 3.90 ↑ 37
SENIORS 3.65 3.69 ↑ 21
ALUMNI 4.04 3.97 ↓ 32
FACULTY 4.32 4.08 13
ADVISORY BOARD 4.41 4.51 17
EMPLOYERS 4.02 4.09 12
Weighted Score 3.97 4.01  
Simple Score 4.13 4.06 ↓  

The Construction Program did achieve its goal with respect to Objective II.

Objective III: Globalization

Offer programs to ensure that graduates have the needed awareness of global construction issues and cultures to help them thrive in an emerging world market.

The construction program’s goal is to achieve a weighted score of 4.00/5.00 for this objective evaluated by constituents. The data below indicates the actual score achieved in the most recent assessment cycle conducted during 2015-2016, and a comparison with the scores achieved in 2009-2010 is provided.

CONSTITUENT Objective III 2010 SCORE Objective III 2016 SCORE NUMBER OF 2016 RESPONDENTS
FRESHMEN 2.02 3.04 8
CONTINUING STUDENTS 3.58 3.46 37
SENIORS 3.71 3.23 21
ALUMNI 3.87 3.60 32
FACULTY 4.33 3.73 13
ADVISORY BOARD 4.79 3.87 17
EMPLOYERS 4.13 4.10 12
Weighted Score 3.86 3.56  
Simple Score 3.77 3.58 ↓  

The Construction Program did not achieve its goal with respect to Objective III.

 

Objective IV: Industry Partnerships

Partner with the construction profession to offer an innovative program that promotes cultural diversity and responds to the needs of the profession and society in the areas of sustainability, infrastructure, and emerging technology.

The construction program’s goal is to achieve a weighted score of 4.00/5.00 for this objective evaluated by constituents. The data below indicates the actual score achieved in the most recent assessment cycle conducted during 2015-2016, and a comparison with the scores achieved in 2009-2010 is provided. 

CONSTITUENT Objective IV 2010 SCORE Objective IV 2016 SCORE NUMBER OF 2016 RESPONDENTS
FRESHMEN 4.03 3.64 ↓ 8
CONTINUING STUDENTS 3.64 3.79 ↑ 37
SENIORS 3.57 3.56 ↓ 21
ALUMNI 4.06 3.87 ↓ 32
FACULTY 4.42 4.08 13
ADVISORY BOARD 4.41 4.27 17
EMPLOYERS 4.09 4.17 12
Weighted Score 3.96 3.88  
Simple Score 4.03 3.91 ↓  

The Construction Program did not achieve its goal with respect to Objective IV.

 

Student learning Outcomes Assessment Results

Student Learning Outcomes are assessed using a direct measure and an indirect measure. All Student Learning Outcomes, with the exception of SLO 17 (Understand the legal implications of contract, common, and regulatory law to manage a construction project), are being achieved according to the direct measure. Indirect measures are based on perception and are most helpful in identifying which of the student learning outcomes should be primarily targeted for improvement. The Program plans to target a minimum of five learning outcomes every year so as to address all twenty learning outcomes in a four-year period.

SLO # SLO Indirect Assessment (Out of 5) Direct Assessment (%)
6 Analyze professional decisions based on ethical principles. 4.32 94
1 Create written communications appropriate to the construction discipline. 4.12 100
9 Apply construction management skills as a member of a multi-disciplinary team. 3.98 100
12 Understand different methods of project delivery and the roles and responsibilities of all constituencies involved in the design and construction process. 3.93 100
7 Analyze construction documents for planning and management of construction processes. 3.80 100
18 Understand the basic principles of sustainable construction. 3.76 100
8 Analyze methods, materials, and equipment used to construct projects. 3.74 100
13 Understand construction risk management. 3.74 88
19 Understand the basic principles of structural behavior. 3.73 81
10 Apply electronic-based technology to manage the construction process. 3.69 100
2 Create oral presentations appropriate to the construction discipline. 3.68 100
17 Understand the legal implications of contract, common, and regulatory law to manage a construction project. 3.58 68
16 Understand construction project control processes. 3.46 100
20 Understand the basic principles of mechanical, electrical and piping systems. 3.45 95
5 Create construction project schedules. 3.43 100
11 Apply basic surveying techniques for construction layout and control. 3.43 100
4 Create construction project cost estimates. 3.40 100
15 Understand construction quality assurance and control. 3.37 100
3 Create a construction project safety plan. 3.22 100
14 Understand construction accounting and cost control. 3.12 100

 

Actions Taken for Improving the Achievement of Program Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes

The assessment process for this cycle indicates that although two of the four program objectives showed a slight improvement, three out of the four are not being achieved. The following table illustrates how the objectives are perceived to be (or not to be) achieved by the various groups of constituents.

Objectives
Constituents 1 2 3 4
Freshmen 3.58 4.18 3.04 3.64
Continuing 3.83 3.90 3.46 3.79
Seniors 3.91 3.69 3.23 3.56
Alumni 3.98 3.97 3.60 3.87
Faculty 4.26 4.08 3.73 4.08
Advisory Board 4.56 4.51 3.87 4.27
Employers 4.10 4.09 4.10 4.17
Simple Average 4.03 4.06 3.58 3.91
Weighted Average 4.01 4.01 3.56 3.88

 

Clearly, some of the shortcomings can be addressed by better communication with the various constituents. For example, the faculty and the members of the CEC Advisory Board are often presented with statistics or attend presentations that show how successful the Construction Program has been in promoting good leadership skills and producing leaders. As a result, they are the only groups of constituents who recognized that the program is achieving its first objective. However, if the lack of adequate knowledge by the evaluators can be used to explain the deficiency in Objective I, it may not apply to the others. And even in the case of Objective I, it is incumbent on the department and program to do a better job at keeping its constituents informed about the program and its strengths.

Shortcomings in meeting Student Learning Outcomes requirements were also identified but mainly from the implementation of the indirect assessment, with the exception of one SLO that also was not achieved based on direct measures. Only two of the SLO’s were found to be achieved based on the indirect measures, those are SLO #1, Create written communications appropriate to the construction discipline, and SLO #6, Analyze professional decisions based on ethical principles. It is interesting to recall that the coverage of ethics was found to be a weakness in the last accreditation visit and CEC was able to address the issue and close the loop on the problem. For SLO’s that are found to be not met by any of the used measures, the program has devised a process by which an action plan is created by the faculty for each deficient SLO, then the construction faculty meet on a regular basis to discuss the action plans for all the SLO’s and ensure that they are being adequately implemented. In some cases, the department was able to take immediate action to address a deficiency. For example, steps have already been taken to improve the quality of instruction in the surveying class. This was done by connecting with one of the CEC Advisory Board members, who is also an alum, and having him demonstrate the use of new surveying equipment to our students and faculty and creating updated instructional material for the surveying course. Steps have also been taken in other courses to improve achievement of related Student Learning Outcomes, including introducing improvements to the Construction Contracts course to improve student achievement of SLO 17.

To address the shortcomings related to meeting program objectives and Student Learning Outcomes, the program is currently in the process of implementing the second phase of its Quality Improvement Plan. This will involve the following steps:

  1. Meeting with some of the constituents from the different groups, namely the alumni and employers, to share with them the results of the surveys and try to have discussions with them with the intention to gain some insights related to the assessment scores and obtain ideas on how shortcomings may be addressed from their perspective,
  2. Reviving the CEC Retreat in which the faculty meet with representatives from the student body to discuss relevant issues and also gain some insights relating to the assessment scores that were given by the students,
  3. Meeting with the faculty to discuss the findings from the comprehensive process and develop strategies for addressing the shortcomings,
  4. Discussing the results of the assessment and the action plan with the Construction Group of the CEC Advisory Board and finalizing the action plan, and
  5. Implementing the action plan 

Improvements through the Senior Exit Interview

The summarized results from the assessment of the program’s objectives and learning outcomes are not the only instrument that allows for continuous improvement. As a matter of fact, over the years, CEC has been able to introduce significant improvements to its programs and facilities just based on what is learned from the senior exit interviews. In fact, it is the most significant tool that helps the department close the short loop. Every year since 1987, the CEC department has held exit interviews with graduating students. The emphasis is not on assessment for reporting purposes but in fact to directly address deficiencies identified or perceived by our graduating seniors.

The exit interview involves the senior faculty collecting data from all seniors. The data is then analyzed and sorted from the lowest score (1) to the highest score (5). The seniors are subsequently invited to meet with the assessment committee and in some cases members of the Civil Engineering Advisory Group to discuss ONLY the weakest areas.

The exit interviews continue to play a crucial role in improving the Construction Program quality, content, reputation, and success in placing its graduates and attracting new faculty. As an example, senior exit interviews were instrumental in introducing the following improvements to the program in recent years:

  1. Immediate improvements in hardware and software in CEC computer laboratories following senior exit interviews.
  2. Curricular and program revisions to offer an improved two-semester senior project course experience that is practice oriented and allows students to work on real projects.
  3. Curricular and program revisions to meet the needs of our students and the industry while meeting our program objectives and required student learning outcomes.
  4. Major improvements to our laboratory facilities including the concrete laboratory, the soils laboratory, the asphalt laboratory, the computer/multimedia laboratory, and all the project laboratories. These improvements included remodeling and investments in new equipment.
  5. Major investments in computing infrastructure and power both in terms of hardware and software. These include an upgrade of the network cabling system and, the purchase of a new server, the replacement of all the computer workstations, the purchase of new large-format printers, the procurement of new and/or updated software, and the installation of a smart board in the estimating laboratory and a Sympodium in the main computer laboratory.

The CEC department recognizes that the quality of the laboratories affects instruction and therefore the quality of the Construction Program. Student outcomes give faculty perspective on what may be needed. Indirect measures like the assessment forms presented in Appendix E in Volume II give valuable insights on changes needed. The senior exit interview is an especially valuable tool in identifying deficiencies in laboratories and dealing with course delivery. With help, advice, and support from our CEC Advisory Board, we have made significant improvements to all of our laboratories over the last few years. The CEC department takes all this input into consideration in determining which equipment or facility improvement project takes priority.