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Changes In Perceived Learning Assessed In Stages From Mid Stream Academic Through Professional Careers

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Special Topics

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Page Numbers

7.287.1 - 7.287.10



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Paper Authors

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Kimberly Barron

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Anita Todd

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Robert Pangborn

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

Main Menu Session 3630

Changes in Perceived Learning Assessed in Stages from Mid-stream Academic through Professional Careers

Anita M. Todd, Kimberly A. Barron and Robert N. Pangborn College of Engineering, Penn State University


This paper describes the implementation and initial findings of a new web-based senior exit survey in the College of Engineering at Penn State. The electronic format includes an adaptive feature that accounts for the student’s major, and presents the respondent with both a core content and a department-specific component that together meet multiple assessment interests and objectives in the College. It also eliminates the need for respondent entry of information that can be generated automatically by linking to the University’s student information system. The approach avoids redundant efforts to acquire students’ feedback on their academic experience and provides a consistent set of data with which to compare students in different majors or associated with different programs or activities. When combined with the results from evaluations completed by students participating in the Engineering Cooperative Education Program and from a survey sent to alumni two to three years after earning their degrees, the perspectives on key educational outcomes can now be compared and tracked for various stages in students’ academic and early professional careers. Selected comparisons, as well as the potential influence of the co-op or post-graduation experiences on student perceptions of learning and preparedness are given.

I. Origins of the Student Assessment Program

The College of Engineering at Penn State has been querying students and graduates for many years on their perceptions of their undergraduate and early work experiences and future plans. The survey instruments and approaches used to gather this information have varied depending on the particular department and time in which a student or graduate is asked for feedback. For instance, students participating in the College’s Cooperative Education Program complete a survey after each work period. The departments have traditionally conducted their own exit interviews of graduating seniors to solicit input on their experiences in the majors. Several years ago, a more formal “Commencement” survey was developed to get more uniform information on students’ post-graduation plans, administered as they arrived for the graduation ceremonies. Surveys of recent alumni have also been carried out for over fifteen years to provide information, in retrospect, from former students on impressions of their education and to track their early post-graduate education, professional development and work activities.

Recently, however, the College has moved to develop a more comprehensive and systematic approach to acquiring this information. The reasons for this initiative are many: While the department-specific processes are effective, they do not provide the consistent data that allow effective comparison among students in the different majors. Because there was often little overlap among the various instruments administered at different times, or the information was collected in very different formats, the changes in the perceptions of students or graduates on the

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright© 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Barron, K., & Todd, A., & Pangborn, R. (2002, June), Changes In Perceived Learning Assessed In Stages From Mid Stream Academic Through Professional Careers Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11363

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