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Reinventing a Computer Technology Curriculum to Meet the Needs of Students and Future Employers

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

ETD Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Troy Harding Kansas State University, Polytechnic Campus

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Computer Systems Technology

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Thomas E. Mertz Kansas State University, Polytechnic Campus

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Thomas Mertz is an associate professor at Kansas State University, Polytechnic Campus, in the School of Integrated Studies. He has taught computer science for 36 years and has previously published in the areas of computer architecture, Java programming, undergraduate curriculum, and academic outcomes assessment. You may reach him at

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William E. Genereux Kansas State University, Polytechnic Campus Orcid 16x16

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William Genereux is a Professor of Computer & Digital Media Technology at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. His research interests are in computing, media literacy and the educational use of digital media technology. He has been working professionally with computers and technology for the past 30+ years.

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Sue A. Guzek Kansas State University, Salina

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Timothy Bower Kansas State University, Polytechnic Campus

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Through the years we have observed that students are often unable to see a broader perspective of why they are studying various topics and required classes. Students seem to be less able to make the connections that they need to make between the different classes and disciplines. This paper discusses a computer technology curriculum and its weaknesses, subsequent changes that were implemented with a program overhaul, and an assessment plan that was devised to determine if those changes were effective towards meeting the learning goals.

The changing expectations of both students and their future employers motivated us to reexamine and overhaul the way we teach computer technology. We revised our student learning outcomes to better reflect industry needs and to make assessment more efficiently used as a tool for curricular decision making. 

Central to the overhaul is the student portfolio. Every computer course in the new curriculum utilizes the portfolio for recording and reflecting on the experiential learning that occurred in the class projects. Not only does the portfolio provide data for assessment, but it demonstrates student abilities to potential employers.

Another key component of the new curriculum is the studio. Borrowing from a tradition in art and architectural programs, we included six credit hour studios for third and fourth year students. This allows us to introduce a variety of topics that can be applied to relevant projects and help students to make connections, giving them a broader perspective. First and second year students also take a one credit hour studio to help connect topics from their various required classes.

We are currently in the first year of a four-year longitudinal study of this new curriculum. The paper also presents survey data on the perceptions of students enrolled in the past curriculum, as well as those now beginning in the new curriculum.

Harding, T., & Mertz, T. E., & Genereux, W. E., & Guzek, S. A., & Bower, T. (2017, June), Reinventing a Computer Technology Curriculum to Meet the Needs of Students and Future Employers Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28790

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