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A Comprehensive Beginning Engineering Student Assessment Program

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.19.1 - 6.19.11



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

Session 1036

A Comprehensive Beginning Engineering Student Assessment Program Heidi Diefes-Dux, William LeBold, William Oakes, and P.K. Imbrie Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN


Since 1953, Purdue University’s Department of Freshman Engineering (FrE) has pursued a wide variety of educational research programs that have focused on beginning students. FrE’s current assessment of beginning engineering students and the freshman engineering program is fairly comprehensive. The FrE assessment strategy is to collect and analyze a data from a number of sources and of a variety of types and use triangulation of that data to develop an understanding of the programs strengths and weaknesses. These data include programmatic data such as retention data as well as initiative or program specific data. These data are collected in recurring efforts as part of longitudinal assessment and periodically to evaluate unique programs such as pilot programs. More resource intensive data collection means such as interviews are used to calibrate and validate the less resource intensive efforts that are carried out every year. This paper will document the development of a comprehensive assessment program that has evolved into a broad-based program that can be a model for an assessment program at any educational institution.

I. Longitudinal Assessment

History of FrE

When Purdue created Freshman Engineering in 1953, the new Dean of Engineering, George Hawkins, appointed Dr. Albert Spalding as Head of the Department. Dean Hawkins had just returned from a sabbatical leave at UCLA working with Dean L.M.K. Boelter, his Heat Transfer colleague and the creator of the UCLA’s Unified Engineering Program. Deans Boelter and Hawkins had analyzed many articles in the Journal of Engineering Education and papers presented at ASEE that they felt were largely "arm chair philosophy." Dr. Spalding also just returned from a DuPont Year-in-Industry leave. Dr. Spalding and Dean Hawkins decided they needed more "hard data," and "action- oriented" programs; they appointed Bill LeBold in 1954, as a full-time Research Assistant in Engineering Education. Initially Bill worked under the supervision of his doctoral chair, Dr. H.H. Remmers, Director of Educational Reference, a testing and educational research division at Purdue University.

Bill LeBold began by analyzing a survey of industrial leaders on their views of engineering graduates and their curricula [1,2]. He also helped develop a new university-wide faculty orientation and a seminar in engineering education for new engineering faculty. He also conducted a comprehensive follow-up study of Purdue Engineering Graduates from 1911-1956.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Diefes-Dux, H., & LeBold, W., & Oakes, W., & Imbrie, P. (2001, June), A Comprehensive Beginning Engineering Student Assessment Program Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9018

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