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Accountability in accreditation sees significant advances

2019.11.21

Engineers Canada’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan identifies accountability in accreditation as a strategic priority (SP2). This priority came from a perception among accreditation stakeholders that the work of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) uses a complicated, unknowable “black box” process, where surprises happen, and autonomous decisions are a regular occurrence.

In keeping with the direction of the strategic plan, earlier this year the CEAB struck an Accountability Committee to work towards the creation of a documented, annual performance measurement process of the accreditation system. Just as the CEAB accreditation process serves to ensure that Canadian engineering degree programs review and continually improve their ability to academically prepare graduates, a structured evaluation framework will help ensure that the CEAB continually improves the accreditation system itself. 

Once developed, the evaluation framework will be used to assess the accreditation system and inform the Accountability Committee’s identification of strengths and gaps on an ongoing basis. Over the summer, the committee developed a Request for Proposal (RFP), and in September Engineers Canada announced that consultants Higher Education and Beyond had been selected to help structure and guide the process.

Since October, Engineers Canada and the Accountability Committee have been working with Higher Education and Beyond to establish project timelines and develop a survey that was circulated to accreditation stakeholders on November 11. The voluntary survey will seek to gather stakeholder input on the benefits and purposes of accreditation, the qualities of a well-functioning accreditation system, and the perspectives that should be used by the Accountability Committee to assess the CEAB accreditation system. Questions will cover numerous elements of the system, including the accreditation process and its inputs, training programs, development of accreditation criteria, stakeholder communication, and other accreditation policies. The findings will have a significant impact on the development of the CEAB’s annual performance tool and reporting mechanisms.

The ultimate aim of this work is to develop an evaluation tool that is concise, focused, and meaningful, providing an assessment framework that measures the effectiveness, trustworthiness, transparency, and efficiency of the accreditation system. 

Questions about the accountability in accreditation process can be directed to Mya Warken, Manager Accreditation and CEAB Secretary, at mya.warken@engineerscanada.ca.

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