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Statistics For Program Assessment: Has The Program Made A Difference?

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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

Assessment and Its Implications in IE

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1018.1 - 7.1018.8



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Mary Anderson-Rowland

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Session 2557

Statistics for Program Assessment: Has the Program Made a Difference?

Mary R. Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University


As funding becomes scarcer and the demand for accountability increases, creditable assessment and evaluation become more important. For example, funding is generally scarce for programs to establish and to improve activities designed to increase enrollment and retention in engineering. Therefore, almost all funding allocated to these recruitment and retention activities requires an assessment of the program to see if the money and time have been well spent.

This paper describes basic statistical concepts that should be considered when assessing a program or activity. Examples are given to illustrate both good and poor program assessment. Warnings are given for data that may turn out to be useless and suggestions presented on ways to enhance data presentation. What it takes for data to be “significant” will also be discussed, as well as the problem of sample size.

Without the proper planning of assessments and data collection, it may be very difficult to show that the program has made a difference. If a program director does not have a good statistical background, they would be well advised to have an assessment person on their team to help plan assessment strategy, to analyze the data, and to draw conclusions.

Keywords: Evaluation, Assessment, Data Analysis, Statistical Testing

I. Introduction

Many university and college budgets are strained. There is not enough money to go around to comfortably support all of the programs worthy of funding. Terms such as accountability, productivity, responsiveness, efficiency, results, impact, and leveraging are used as tough decisions are made to fund and to continue programs. Engineering schools today are engaged in many activities outside of the classroom. Major issues include recruitment, retention, graduation, and K-12 Outreach Programs. To fund these programs, tough decisions needs to be made by engineering deans on how much money goes to support outreach and retention along with hiring faculty, providing seed money for research, and buying equipment. Many engineering programs seek national funding through a government organization such as the National Science Foundation or the Department of Education. To show that the money and time will be well spent on any particular project, an assessment plan is needed. During the project and at the end of a project, a report is usually required to show that the program was successful, that a change was made, or a result was obtained. User-friendly guidebooks have been developed that describe both formative and summative assessment. 1

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

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Anderson-Rowland, M. (2002, June), Statistics For Program Assessment: Has The Program Made A Difference? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11342

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