Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1097.1 - 9.1097.6
Simplifying the Process of Recognizing Excellence: a database system for establishing eligibility in Tau Beta Pi
Matthew W. Ohland and James D. Froula General Engineering, Clemson University / The Tau Beta Pi Association
Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society for students of all engineering disciplines, seeks to recognize those students of distinguished scholarship and exemplary character. To meet the scholarship requirement, students must be in the top eighth of their junior engineering class or the top fifth of the senior engineering class. Classifying a student as a “junior” or “senior” can be based on institutional classification or, preferably, by estimating the amount of time remaining before the student will graduate. The prevalence of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and transfer credits has advanced the institutional classification of many students without necessarily having made as much progress toward graduation as that classification would indicate, so these two definitions often show great disparity. If care is not taken at some institutions, the use of institutional classification by itself can result in the recognition of engineering students who have not yet taken a course in their engineering majors.
At Clemson, a database system is used to properly and efficiently classify students as juniors or seniors based on their progress in the engineering curriculum, to enforce other constraints to determine eligibility in Tau Beta Pi, and to generate a variety of reports to assist in the operation of the chapter. In addition to lending insight to the management of student records in general, the process is documented clearly so that it could be implemented by student services personnel, even when faculty do not have the expertise to gather and sort student records. As such, this process could be useful in establishing eligibility for a wide range of honor societies, thus making the recognition of excellence among engineering students simpler and more accurate.
The Challenges of Determining Honor Society Eligibility
Tau Beta Pi first identifies potential members using a scholastic requirement, as is the case for most honor societies. Students must be in the top eighth of their junior engineering class or the top fifth of the senior engineering class. Classifying a student as a “junior” or “senior” can be based on institutional classification or, preferably, by estimating the amount of time remaining before the student will graduate. A recent survey of the membership process of Tau Beta Pi chapters has uncovered several opportunities for improvement.
Data access. As has been the case for years, some chapters continue to have difficulty obtaining eligibility lists in a timely manner—this problem has been exacerbated by legislation and court rulings that have restricted access to student data. Providing students sufficient data to compute the rank in class of all students is a clear violation of federal statutes.1 As a result, a list of students who are scholastically eligible that is given to the student officers of a Tau Beta Pi chapter must not contain any student grade or rank data. Generally, this takes the process of Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Froula, J., & Ohland, M. (2004, June), Simplifying The Process Of Recognizing Excellence: A Database System For Establishing Eligibility In Tau Beta Pi Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13089
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