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Are We Up to the Task of Confronting a Decline in Student Performance? A Panel Discussion

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Aerospace Technical Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.205.1 - 25.205.4



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Paper Authors


Kathy Schmidt Jackson Pennsylvania State University

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Kathy Jackson is a Senior Research Associate at Pennsylvania State University’s Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. In this position, she promotes Penn State’s commitment to enriching teaching and learning. Jackson works in all aspects of education including faculty development, instructional design, engineering education, learner support, and evaluation.

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Mark D. Maughmer Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Mark D. Maughmer received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois, and an M.S.E. in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton. He has been on the faculty in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State since 1984. His research activities are analytical, experimental, and computational, and generally in the areas of aerodynamics, primarily aircraft and wind turbines, and aircraft design, flight mechanics, and stability and control. He has worked on aircraft designs with a number of companies, and has played a key role in the development of winglets for sailplanes and low-speed aircraft. He is actively involved in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the International Organization for the Science and Technology of Soaring (OSTIV). He has served as the Chairman of Aerospace Engineering Division of ASEE, and received their Distinguished Service Award in 2006. He received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Penn State Engineering Society in 1993 and the Premier Teaching Award in 2001. For the past two decades, he has been the “cat herder” for a project-based learning course, based on the German Akafliegs, in which freshman through seniors together are designing and fabricating sailplanes, participating in the AIAA Design-Build-Fly competition, and currently working on a human-powered aircraft to compete for Kremer Prize Competition administered by the Royal Aeronautical Society of Great Britain.

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Robert H. Bishop P.E. Marquette University

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Robert Bishop is the Dean of Engineering at Marquette University and is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Wallace T. Fowler P.E. University of Texas, Austin

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Wallace Fowler has served on the faculty of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas, Austin, since 1965. He is a Fellow of both the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He served as National Pesident of ASEE in 2000-01. He currently directs the NASA Texas Space Grant Consortium. He was the recipient of the 1985 AIAA/ASEE John Leland Atwood Award and the 1994 ASEE Fred Merryfield Design Education Award.

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Are We Up to the Task of Confronting a Decline in Student Performance? A Panel Discussion Kathy Schmidt Jackson, Mark D. Maughmer, Wallace T. Fowler, and Robert H. BishopAcross the nation, we debate the current state of our students. Internationally our youths’educational standings are falling and by the time we get students into universities, are they readyfor the rigor and demands of collegiate learning? Two years ago at the ASEE 2009 Conference, apaper was presented entitled, “Is Student Performance Declining? A Look at 25 Years of Data.”The results found that there was a significant decrease in the difficulty level of the exams givento aerospace engineering students in the two courses examined. Often blame is placed on thestudents’ lack of perquisite knowledge and while that is a contributing factor, we believe theproblem is much deeper. While setting high standards is paramount to student achievement, werealize that you still have to teach so that students can succeed. How can you appropriatelychallenge and prepare the current generation of students without relaxing course content andrequirements? At question is what can and should be done to rectify this situation? In this paneldiscussion, several experienced engineering educational practitioners will consider and discussstrategies to help mitigate this confounding situation..

Jackson, K. S., & Maughmer, M. D., & Bishop, R. H., & Fowler, W. T. (2012, June), Are We Up to the Task of Confronting a Decline in Student Performance? A Panel Discussion Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20965

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