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Assessment Driven Change: How Systemic Evaluation Can Lead To More Productive Outreach

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Women in Engineering Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.233.1 - 10.233.7



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Bogue

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Assessment Driven Change: How Systemic Evaluation Can Lead to More Productive Outreach

Barbara Bogue The Pennsylvania State University

Assessment is often the weakest part of apparently successful outreach activities. While most outreach activities include surveys of participants as a part of the activity, the surveys are typically formative and one-time. (3, 6). Furthermore, because these are typically given at the end of the event when participants are revved up, the responses measured are a better indication of a participant’s enjoyment rather than whether the objectives of the activity were met. Without verification through other data (a post-event survey or tracking of subsequent decisions and actions), the information gathered is effective primarily for guaranteeing the development of an activity that the participants enjoy.

While it is certainly important for the success of a program to have the participants enjoy it, from the point of view of larger goals and objectives, it is inadequate. If for example, the goal of the activity was to have pre-college girls take more math or enroll in engineering at the University level or to have a lasting understanding of what engineers do, this is not measured by a sole formative survey offered at the end of the activity. In fact, this lack of data on whether objectives of pre-college engineering outreach activities may well be one of the factors in the plateau of women in engineering undergraduate programs at an average 20 percent nationally. The NSF report on Building Science and Engineering Talent (2) identifies the lack of good assessment and the resulting data as one of the major issues to be addressed in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in engineering.

Ultimately, good assessment requires a systems approach to gathering and analyzing data. By combining formative and summative information with other sources of data such as a time- management student, resource allocation analysis and traditional outcomes tracking of what happens to participants after they complete an activity provides an overall picture valuable for enhancing, redirecting or even dropping an outreach effort. This paper presents such an overall analysis of an engineering outreach camp for girls offered annually at Penn State’s University Park campus.

Description and history of the camp MTM High School Day Camp (Move the Mountain) started out as VEC-Tour (Venture in Engineering Camp) a traditional residential camp designed to introduce junior and senior high school girls to engineering in 2001. A secondary, and specific goal, was to recruit the girls to Penn State Engineering. Today, it is an engineering day camp offered annually in the center of Pennsylvania that attracts a diverse group of girls from states that have included Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin. The participants are diverse: Thirty-five percent of the girls participating in 2003 were African American (14%) and Hispanic American (21%). Only 30 percent of the campers

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education and Annual Conference & Exposition” Copyright , American Society for Engineering Education

Bogue, B. (2005, June), Assessment Driven Change: How Systemic Evaluation Can Lead To More Productive Outreach Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14307

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