2012 ABET Review Weakness Discussion

ABET’s review of the GIS program identified two weaknesses which must be addressed by the University in order to receive accreditation.  The program coordinator has proposed two changes and has asked the committee to offer suggestions.  Here is the ABET draft statement representing the findings of the recent evaluation of the ABET commission, the proposed changes, and the committee’s discussion.

First, Gary’s request, then the draft statement followed by the faculty’s proposed changes, and then a transcript of the committee’s discussion held via email:

Please see attached ABET review, which found two weaknesses in the Geographic Information Science program. The [proposed] resolution of the two weaknesses [is below].

Please review the two weaknesses. I believe they will be easily rectified.

Click here to download this file in its native format (PDF, 338KB)

In response to the first weakness on the program educational objectives, the faculty and I propose the following change:


All Students that graduate are expected to be able to accomplish the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data and information.


Geographic Information Science program graduates will demonstrate growth and advancement in the surveying profession or geospatial sciences.

With regard to the low response to feedback from employers of our graduates:

To date our attempts to survey graduate employers was focused on emailing an employer survey questionnaire to our graduates to pass onto their employer. The questionnaire was sent to graduates on three separate occasions. The final outcome was one employer response.

We believe the response was low due to the fact that the questionnaire to the employers was not anonymous, which prevented employers from answering the survey and potentially exposing themselves to defamation liability or being too critical of our program without having full knowledge of the program’s content.

Our plan to overcome this weakness is to redesign the questionnaire to be anonymous and to reduce the number of questions so as to reduce the effort required for employers to respond. We also intend to direct the firms coming to recruit our students on campus to the survey and to encourage these repeat employers to respond to the questionnaire. We intend to have the revised questionnaire available for the spring 2013 recruiting season.

Committee Discussion


Dr. J’s change to the program educational objectives  is a great fix, and I fully give my blessing.

It could also be augmented with documentation of pass rates of the NCEES LSIT exam of TAMUCC graduates, or acceptance of TAMUCC Graduates by GISCI as GISPs.


I too agree with this and the suggestions from [SB]. We may also want to add a former student program that gives the students credit for reporting their achievements and employment. That would give us the ability to send polls about our students abilities in the work force.


My comments on the suggested remedies to the ABET’s observed “Weaknesses.”

1. [Comment on the] suggested remedy:

My suggestion is clearly in accord with the above, but preferably with some slight revision, such as:

Graduate students are expected to accomplish the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data, measured by attained professional responsibilities.

2. [Comment on the] suggested remedy:

Mostly agree.  Employers must have anonymity and the shorter the evaluation, the better, and more likely to be answered. Employers should not be exposed to obvious legal ramifications in honestly answering graduate’s employment records without first having the graduate to sign a waiver from such employer’s liability on a future dated, confidential document (which might have been done earlier).  Am sure the legal department would be able to compose such.


Agree with all the sentiments…I am also wondering if we could increase knowledge of student success by searching sites such as Linked in to check profiles of accomplishment?

Not sure if this is acceptable but might bolster the case for success.


I like what [KG] writes with just a minor change…

Graduate students are expected to attain professional achievements in the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data.


I agree and like what both [KG] and [SB] have written.


I like [SS’s] adjustment of expectation. Does there need to be a distinction between students who graduate (as I read [KG’s] original) and graduate students currently enrolled?


Maybe would be better if we say graduating students (rather than graduate)?


I agree:

Graduating students are expected to attain professional achievements in the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data.


I agree with the latest revision.

Graduating students are expected to attain professional achievements in the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data.

In regards to the survey, I agree that limiting the number of questions and the option of submitting anonymously might achieve additional responses.   I suggest the option of allowing the respondent to identify themselves may be a benefit to the program.


On Criterion 2:  While the criterion states that the program objectives are supposed to be “broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years after graduation…..”, I believe that the new proposed statement is way too broad.  I like [KG’s] or [SS’s] statements better, except to correct it to state:  “Graduates” (not ‘graduate students’ — which could refer to Masters level)…..”   [MP] also expressed this concern.  “Graduating students” to me implies that they haven’t graduated yet.  And this appears to be an on-going objective far beyond the graduation date.

On Criterion 4:  You might also add that we would make an effort to discern who the graduates’ employers are so that the evaluation could be sent directly to them rather than distributed via the graduates.

The other suggestions are good.


I was thinking similarly as [NG] – the surveys should be sent directly to the employer rather than through the student. I’m sure there must be survey sites that also allow anonymous (or optional contact) entry.


Also, as an employer, I’m not sure that there are legal issues if the survey-questionnaire is anonymous and does not identify an employee.  Thinking here:  If I have one employee that was a TAMUCC graduate, then I guess you could deduce who the employee is, but for God’s sake, if the employee is that bad, he/she won’t be working for me for long anyway.  I could therefore just return the survey and say, “No TAMUCC graduates work here.”

The questionnaire could also be worded very non-employee specific such as:  Do you feel that in your association with graduates (employed or non-employed) that they have an adequate grasp of ____________________.


How about this:

Employed graduates are expected to attain professional achievements in the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data.

We seem to be getting very close to saying what most of us thought we meant to say in the first place.


How about:

Employed graduates are expected to demonstrate that they have attained professional achievements in the acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data.

That places the attainment during university courses.  The other could imply attainment afterwards.


I believe y’all got it now!

[End of Transcript]

Thanks to the committee for their comments.  If there are any further comments or suggestions, please post them in the comment form below.

William B


I am a Registered Professional Land Surveyor and work for a small land surveying and mapping business called Absolute Land Surveying, Ltd., located in Plum, Texas. I am a 1999 graduate of the Geomatics Program and was the 6th graduate overall of the Program. I am also a member of the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveyors' Item Writing Committee that develops questions for the Board's legal and analytical exams.

One Comment:

  1. Hi all,
    I very much appreciate your input. What ABET is saying in their first weakness is that the words “acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data and information” are student learning outcomes (what students should know at the end of their four-year degree) rather than program educational objectives (career attainment five years after graduation from the program). The wording I have used as a replacement is similar to educational objectives that appear on other accredited programs. In short, the words “acquisition, analysis, and management of geospatial data and information” should not appear in and educational objective.

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