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The value of a comprehensive, integrated assessment program for improving the first-year engineering experience

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4 Author(s)
Pieronek, C. ; Coll. of Eng., Notre Dame Univ., IN ; McWilliams, L.H. ; Silliman, S.E. ; Uhran, J.J.

The College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame recently completed the fifth year of its first-year Introduction to Engineering course. Each year, the College assesses the quality of the learning experience using various assessment methods including student surveys, student and faculty interviews, student demographic information, student performance in the course and retention rate into the sophomore year. This combination of assessment methods has allowed the College to direct its efforts toward those areas that appear to have the greatest potential for improvement. Our assessment/course improvement cycle has demonstrated the value of an integrated approach to assessing course effectiveness and student progress toward learning outcomes. We have implemented several modifications to the course that have had a positive impact on the retention of all students and, particularly, on the retention of women. The information has also helped us to identify cultural and systemic issues at the University, outside of the course, that affect the retention of engineering students, particularly women, and have enabled us to effect changes at the University level to address those issues. The information has also led us to characterize the types of students at risk for leaving engineering early, allowing the College to engage in proactive efforts to improve the delivery of information to these groups of students. Any single element of this integrated assessment effort might have provided tantalizing clues for necessary changes. But the value of a comprehensive, integrated assessment program lies in the fact that the College can target changes to an identified need, thus achieving positive results

Published in:

Frontiers in Education, 2005. FIE '05. Proceedings 35th Annual Conference

Date of Conference:

19-22 Oct. 2005