Performance Theory Based Outcome Measurement in Engineering Education and Training

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William E. Dillon, George V. Kondraske, Louis J. Everett, and Richard A. Volz, 'Performance Theory Based Outcome Measurement in Engineering Education and Training,' IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol. 43, no 2, 2, pg 92-99.


An approach is presented to improve engineering education that is based on new concepts of systems performance and classic feedback theory. An important aspect is the use of General Systems Performance Theory (GSPT) to provide a performance model of the educational system and as a basis for the key outcome metrics: the volumes of performance capacity envelopes of individual students. Feedback is aimed at achieving both better curriculum design and teaching methods. In addition to conceptual issues, a web-based implementation plan and experimental validation plan is described. The quantitative modeling approach taken, including choice of appropriate levels of abstraction, has provided better understanding of the system used to provide engineering education and a basis for quantitatively linking components of the program to student performance in a causal manner. The educational system performance model is discussed in the context of competency models. It is believed that this approach holds promise for not only documenting a meaningful type of outcome but also for providing insight into the rationale for steps taken in attempts to improve an educational system.