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The Department of Computer Science at California State University, Los Angeles is applying for accreditation from ABET for its BS program. ABET requires that programs shows that they assess themselves (using some formal system of metrics) and then use the results of that assessment to improve their programs. These adjustments may take the form of curricular changes.

Because of the individual initiates of faculty members in the Department of Computer Science, the program had implemented a significant number of curricular changes over the past few years. These were done because faculty thought they were the right things to do—based on their sense of the discipline. The department certainly had not been in the habit of developing metrics to assess itself and then looking at those metrics to see where it needed to improve.

However, when writing the ABET self-assessment, the department has claimed that these curricular changes are evidence of its committment to a formalized self-assessment process. Of course this was absolutely false. The curricular changes were the result of decisions individual faculty members and certainly not the result of some sort of formal assessment process—which most faculty think is foolish and a significant waste of resources. But because the Department has been strong-armed into putting itself through the accreditation process, and because the accreditation process rules require that the Department demonstrate its commitment to assessment-based self-improvement, the curricular changes have been dressed up to appear as if they flowed from an assessment process in the hope that this would make the ABET evaluators happy.

It will be interesting to see whether anyone notices this unintended consequence entry.