strate increases in student learning and greater teaching effectiveness.15

Some professional accrediting organizations and disciplinary societies also are becoming involved with efforts to improve undergraduate education within their disciplines. Beginning in 2001, engineering programs will be subject to new criteria for accreditation established by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).16 These outcome-based standards include a call for engineering programs to demonstrate that their graduates have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the profession. To help member institutions prepare to meet these new expectations, ABET began holding conferences on Outcomes Assessment for Program Improvement and now sponsors annual national conferences on this issue.17 Similarly, in 1991 the American Psychological Association (APA) drafted a set of voluntary, outcome-based standards for undergraduate eduation in this discipline that can be applied to all students who enroll in psychology courses.18 A task force established by APA’s Board of Scientific Affairs has developed a set of guidelines for “undergraduate psychology competencies” (APA, 2002).

The committee applauds the efforts of professional and disciplinary organizations in helping members recognize their roles and responsibilities for improving undergraduate education and in offering sessions about how to do so. However, these groups could contribute significantly to efforts aimed at improving teaching and learning if they were also to convene serious discussions addressing the broader issues and conflicts that serve as barriers to those efforts, such as allocation of faculty time, expectations for professional advancement, and recognition and rewards.


Additional information about the organization’s increasing emphasis on examining and disseminating new ideas about assessment is available at <>.


Additional information is available at <>.


Additional information about the ABET conferences is available at <>. for undergraduate education in this


APA’s Principles for Quality Undergraduate Psychology Programs is available at <>.

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