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Administering an Asynchronous Professional Master’s Degree: Effective Strategies for Design, Delivery, and Engagement

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Management Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

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Paper Authors


Jena Shafai Asgarpoor University of Nebraska - Lincoln

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Jena Asgarpoor has been on the faculty at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln since August 2017. She is a Professor of Practice and the Director for the Master of Engineering Management Program in the College of Engineering. Dr. Asgarpoor received her Ph. D. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering, specializing in Engineering Management, from Texas A&M University in College Station, where she had previously earned a B.A. in Political Science (Summa Cum Laude). Prior to UNL, she was a professor at Bellevue University (Bellevue, Nebraska) for 26 years. She is an officer in the Engineering Leadership Development (LEAD) and Engineering Management (EMD) divisions of ASEE, and also active in the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM).

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Yaoling Wang University of Nebraska - Lincoln

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Yaoling Wang is an Instructional Designer at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Yaoling works with faculty and staff in the College of Engineering on both online and face-to-face course design. She assists instructors in implementing Evidence-Based Practices, developing instructional resources, and employing innovative instructional technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

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Online delivery is popular due to its flexibility of time and space, especially for those who for various reasons are unable to pursue their educational dreams, such as those in remote locations or those who work full time. The opportunity to receive a graduate education entirely online with no in-residence requirements is an appealing prospect for many adult learners who wish to advance themselves by earning a master’s degree without the necessity to pause their careers. The Master of Engineering Management (MEM) Program at the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) has no face-to-face component or requirement, and it is offered through Canvas, a Learning Management System, widely adopted by many institutions. The entire program is web-based and delivered asynchronously. The MEM is a professional master’s degree for individuals with STEM undergraduate degree and employed in engineering and technology industry. Relevant work experience is required for admission. Average experience (post baccalaureate degree) was 57 months (4.75 years) for those enrolled between July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020. The non-traditional demographic of MEM students is a key criterion to consider in administration of the program, engaging the students, and design and delivery of courses. Pedagogical design strategies and delivery practices that are carefully planned for working professionals must be considered to ensure success in achieving learning outcomes as well as full engagement of the students with the program and curriculum. The right combination of advising, administration, technology, pedagogy, and content is required to produce an environment in which these non-traditional students thrive and succeed in achieving learning outcomes and objectives and persist in enrollment and degree completion in a reasonable amount of time. Literature points to effective strategies for programs that cater to non-traditional students, best practices in asynchronous course design, and ways to prepare faculty for asynchronous delivery mode. The role that experts trained in instructional design and technology play is paramount to success of such programs. These are all ways that could be leveraged to administer a successful program. This paper will discuss three focal areas in administering the MEM program: • Student onboarding practices to inform, advise, and engage students • Faculty onboarding practices to align learning outcomes, activities, and assessment • Building community through forming a hub for information sharing and engagement The MEM program started implementing some of these strategies over the past 12 – 18 months. This paper will discuss our practices and methods and invites further discussions on fully online graduate program development and improvement.

Asgarpoor, J. S., & Wang, Y. (2021, July), Administering an Asynchronous Professional Master’s Degree: Effective Strategies for Design, Delivery, and Engagement Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36654

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