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Student Observations Over The Last 25 Years

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Academic Standards & Issues/Concerns & Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1156.1 - 10.1156.14



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Paper Authors

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R. William Graff

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Paul Leiffer

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

Student Observations over the Last 25 Years

R. William Graff, Paul R. Leiffer

LeTourneau University


Most engineering faculty who have taught for over ten years have raised a question at some point: “Is it me, or have students changed since I began teaching?” Using input from university statistics, faculty, staff, and student surveys, published literature, and course grade records over twenty-five years, the authors have identified twelve trends and observations regarding current students that impact student success and preparation for engineering careers. While many of these trends are positive and should be encouraged, a few are disturbing and should be addressed. Among the positive areas are: an increased awareness of the nature of engineering, ability to work in groups, acceptance of other students, familiarity with computers, and an increase in women engineering students. At the same time we find, in many students, a shorter attention span, less previous hands-on experience, and a tendency to expect high grades without much effort (being familiar with the grade inflation tendencies of high school.) The number of distractions (stereo, MP-3 player, cable TV, internet gaming and surfing in the dorm room) have increased, and the opportunities for high-tech cheating have multiplied. Societal trends, generational trends, higher education trends, and high school preparation all enter as shaping factors for our incoming students. As instructors and advisors we want to help make this generation of students the best that they can be.


While researching this topic, an overwhelming number of changes were found in the past 25 years; only the most relevant set is treated in this paper, together with what the authors believe to be the three common denominators which cause these changes. One of these three has been examined in the works of F.A. Schaeffer1,2 and summarized in previous papers3,4. The second has been treated by Neil Postman5. The third is obviously technical advancement, itself.


L.U. is a private, non-denominational Christian university. When RWG began to teach there, in 1975, it was a college and had an enrollment of 448 engineering and engineering technology students out of a total student body of 746. The conventional student enrollment is now 1255, with 384 engineering and engineering technology students.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Graff, R. W., & Leiffer, P. (2005, June), Student Observations Over The Last 25 Years Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14376

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