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A Comparative Observation Of Full Time Versus Part Time Engineering Technology Students With Respect To Attitudes, Performance, Reliability, Maturity, And General Professionalism

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Student Learning and Teamwork

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.22.1 - 11.22.21



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Paper Authors


Jerome Tapper Northeastern University

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Professor Tapper is an Associate Academic Specialist in EET at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a BSEE and a MSIS, both from Northeastern University. Jerry is a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with over twenty-five years of industrial experience. He is also the author of a tool-kit based text for electrical engineering technology students, Electronics for Engineering Technology and has authored more than 25 papers on the pedagogy of Engineering Technology.

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Francis Di Bella Northeastern University

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Professor DiBella is the current Director of the School of Engineering Technology at Northeastern University. He holds a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and is a Registered Professional Engineer. Professor Dibella has written numerous papers of the subject of renewable energy.

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Walter Buchanan Texas A&M University

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Dr. Buchanan is Professor and Head of the department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A & M University. He received his BSE and MSE from Purdue University, and his Ph.D. and J.D. from Indiana University. Walt is a P.E. in five states, and is Past Chair of the Engineering Technology Division of ASEE. He has written more than 90 papers, and is a Member of TAC of ABET and Past Chair of IEEE's CTAA.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Comparative Observation of Full-Time Versus Part-Time Engineering Technology Students With Respect to Attitudes, Performance, Reliability, Maturity, and General Professionalism

Abstract - Educational institutions that have both day and evening engineering technology programs recruit students for these programs from a number of sources. Day students are primarily recruited from high school or vocational environments in addition to transfers from various two-year community colleges. Evening students, for the most part, have traditionally been comprised of a compendium of students who have already entered the work force and are looking to start or continue their education allowing them to move vertically within their respective companies. The quality, maturity, and behavior of these groups of students are markedly different. This paper discusses some of the differences as observed from these groups over the past several years and makes some suggestions as to how to equalize the playing field as far as curriculum is concerned due to these differences. Cooperative education programs also play a large role in molding day students’ attitudes with respect to maturity and professionalism. Students, participating in such curricula, tend to acquire much needed experience and maturity during their coop experiences resulting in a more professional student in the classroom. Comparisons among these groups will be made and suggestions offered as to possible adjustments in curricula to suit these vastly different student groups.


Some years ago, circa 1993, a discussion had taken place between a young faculty member and a much older, more experienced colleague. In that discussion, comments were made relative to the maturity of full-time day engineering technology students versus part-time evening engineering technology students. It seems that the younger professor, who had been teaching courses during the day, could not believe how immature his students were. In that same conversation, the older, more experienced professor commented that he felt that the part-time evening students were by far more mature in all aspects of their performance. This debate continued for some time with the younger faculty member arguing that full time students should inherently be more mature as they are essentially in school all day and have dedicated themselves to their educational programs with full time access to all of the necessary college resources. The older faculty member argued that this may be true for some and indeed was true when the younger faculty member had gone to school, but was no longer the case. He argued that evening students were more mature by virtue of their ages and responsibilities to themselves and their families. He argued that most, if not all, were working and supporting themselves and possibly a family. He reasoned that with the pressures of “real-life,” they were forced to make more mature decisions as these decisions would not only affect them, but their wives and children and maybe others.

Some years later, the younger professor had now became the older more experienced professor and had decided to review this issue of “student maturity”. From experience, this professor decided that his older colleague had indeed been right all along. In doing so, it was decided to survey evening students from all of the evening engineering technology disciplines: computer,

Tapper, J., & Di Bella, F., & Buchanan, W. (2006, June), A Comparative Observation Of Full Time Versus Part Time Engineering Technology Students With Respect To Attitudes, Performance, Reliability, Maturity, And General Professionalism Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--312

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