June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.901.1 - 11.901.19
Longitudinal Study of U.S. News Rankings of Engineering Programs in Institutions without Doctoral Programs in Engineering
One of the questions engineering educators are often asked by their various constituencies is “How does your program rank nationally?” For the subject group of engineering programs (those without doctoral programs in engineering at their institution), the highly publicized annual U.S. News rankings are often cited—or rationalized—depending on the most recent rankings. In the U.S. News survey, each respondent is asked to rate the listed programs from 5 (highest) to 1 (lowest). In this paper, the authors explore the variability of the U.S. News ratings and rankings of bachelor’s degree programs in engineering in institutions that do not offer doctoral programs in engineering. Specifically, this paper explores the variation of these annual ratings and rankings from year to year, institution by institution (but without specific institutional identification, which is not the purpose of the paper) and provides graphical data that illustrates the amount and a discussion that indicates the reason for some of this variability.
The context for this study is provided by the following paragraph quoted from a 2005 ASEE Annual Conference paper:
“Figure 1 shows the U.S. News & World Report ranking (with average ratings from 4.4 to 2.6) for the 53 top-rated engineering programs, according to the 2004 survey results. Institutions are not identified, but are represented by their respective ranking. With the relative flatness of the curve, one can easily see that a small change in rating could mean a considerable change in ranking. Indeed, since the rating is based on the average to one decimal, a one-hundredth difference in the average of the participants’ ratings could mean a one-tenth change in rating. This, in turn, could mean no change or a jump of up to nine positions in the resulting ranking (e.g., from 30 to 21, or vice versa).” 1
The current paper explores that observation with a longitudinal (temporal) analysis, with both temporal graphs and statistical measures of the rating and ranking results over a four-year period. The results illustrate the considerable variability of these ratings and rankings of engineering programs from year to year. If one grants the premise that the quality of most baccalaureate programs in engineering do not vary significantly from year to year, then much of this annual variability could be attributed to the method by which the rankings are determined. This perspective would then be important in the inferences, interpretations and judgments of the various constituencies that use these rankings.
This analysis may be of particular interest to those institutions that offer a multidisciplinary engineering baccalaureate program in engineering, general engineering, engineering physics, or engineering science, as many of these are institutions that do not offer doctoral programs in engineering and are therefore included in this list.
Farison, J., & Li Shen, C. (2006, June), Longitudinal Study Of U.S. News Rankings Of Engineering Programs In Institutions Without Doctoral Programs In Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--199
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