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Educational Objectives And Expectations For Post Graduation Achievement

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Engineering Education Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.499.1 - 9.499.12



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Paper Authors

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Kimberly Barron

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Sang Ha Lee

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John Wise

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Robert Pangborn

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Thomas Litzinger

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

Session #1630

Educational Objectives and Expectations for Post-Graduation Achievement Kimberly A. Barron, Robert N. Pangborn, Sang Ha Lee, Thomas A. Litzinger and John C. Wise College of Engineering, Penn State University


This paper describes the evaluation of survey data collected from almost 1,300 Penn State engineering alumni who graduated in the years 1995 to 2000. Analyses were conducted to determine if there are differences in the respondents’ perceptions of their education based on the initial career path chosen, namely, full-time employment versus entry directly into graduate study; and within these two categories, whether perceptions vary depending on graduates’ decisions to pursue primarily technical or business/management tracks. Examination of the data provides evidence to suggest that their impression of the importance of various competencies and abilities is related to their choice of post-graduation activities. Depending on the selected career path, they rate the importance of these abilities differently, but tend to rate their preparedness in these areas similarly.

These findings are particularly relevant and valuable, given the definition of program educational objectives proposed by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc., for the 2004- 05 Engineering Criteria.1 This proposal defines the educational objectives as “statements that describe the expected accomplishments of graduates during the first few years after graduation.” The survey responses for Penn State alumni two to three years following graduation show that different kinds of achievement and measures of accomplishment apply to the different early- career paths. This raises questions that may need to be considered for curriculum design. For instance: What actions should we be taking to prepare our students for the broader aspects of their professional careers? What competencies and abilities should we emphasize in a curriculum constrained by a limited time frame? Examining the data from our surveys of recent graduates, which include information on the tasks they are actually performing in various roles, offers insights into these questions and gives us a starting point to begin to make decisions on how to prioritize the implementation of potential curricular improvements. Data collected over several years also allow us to examine patterns over time to make reasonable interpretations about the effectiveness of our programs and trends in graduates’ perceptions of their education as the move into the workplace or pursue advanced degrees.

I. Origins of the Alumni Survey

For many years, the College of Engineering at Penn State has been surveying students and graduates concerning their perceptions of their undergraduate education, their early work

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright© 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Barron, K., & Lee, S. H., & Wise, J., & Pangborn, R., & Litzinger, T. (2004, June), Educational Objectives And Expectations For Post Graduation Achievement Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13070

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