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Using Employer Surveys To Determine The Extent To Which Educational Objectives Are Being Achieved

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Software Engineering Curriculum Support

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1384.1 - 11.1384.15



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Paper Authors


James McDonald Monmouth University

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JAMES MCDONALD is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Software Engineering at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. He teaches and consults in the areas of software engineering, software project management and software quality. He has BSEE and MSEE degrees from New Jersey Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively, and a PhD from New York University.

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

Using Employer Surveys to Determine the Extent to Which Educational Objectives Are Being Achieved


Criterion 2 of the current ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs requires that the program being evaluated have in place a process of ongoing evaluation of the extent to which the program’s educational objectives are being attained. Many engineering programs have had great difficulty getting feedback from employers of their alumni to determine the extent to which their objectives are being achieved. This paper presents an approach to obtaining such feedback that has engaged both alumni and their employers in evaluating achievement of educational objectives. Monmouth University’s Software Engineering program created a questionnaire related to its objectives and asked for employer feedback on the degree of attainment as well as other information. Because at the time of the first survey only a small number of alumni and employers were available to participate, it was important to maximize the response rate. Employers were encouraged to respond by providing each alumnus with a cover letter from the program chair, a release form that relieved the employer from liability related to the release of private information and the program’s questionnaire. All of the alumni who graduated in the first class of graduates were able to use this method to convince their employers to respond. The response rate was 100%. This paper describes the program’s objectives, the survey process, the documentation and the responses received from employers. It also describes the conclusions and improvements that were made based upon the survey findings.

Introduction and Background

Since 2000 the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has been requiring engineering programs seeking accreditation to define both program educational objectives and program outcomes and to measure graduates’ and students’ success in achieving those objectives and outcomes. Outcomes are intended to be things that alumni of the program would be expected to achieve within 3 to 5 years of graduation while outcomes are things that students should be able to do by the time they graduate. The ABET criteria are based largely on the contents of a 1997 task force report on engineering education assessment6. Maxim7 has provided an excellent overview of one software engineering program’s plan to assess their program.

Criterion 2 of ABET’s current criteria for accreditation of engineering programs4 requires that, “Each engineering program for which an institution seeks accreditation or reaccreditation must have in place:

(a) detailed published educational objectives that are consistent with the mission of the institution and these criteria

McDonald, J. (2006, June), Using Employer Surveys To Determine The Extent To Which Educational Objectives Are Being Achieved Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--30

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