Program Evaluation: Utilizing Graduate and Employer Perception Data in Determining Graduates’ Job Preparedness Levels

  • Bonnie S. Higgins (Bemidji State University)


The purpose of this study was to investigate graduate and employer perceptions in regard to the job preparedness level of graduates from a design technology program at a single midwestern university in five skill category areas: (a) general work habits and skills, (b) communication skills, (c) technical skills, (d) graphic communication skills, and (e) project management skills. The design technology program at this university is a program in the Technological Studies Department (formerly Industrial Technology). This study was conducted as evaluation research and implemented an internal formative evaluation conducted through the administration of surveys to two distinct groups. Fifty-nine (27.4%) program graduates from 2001-2006 completed and returned the 19-item survey, while twenty-seven (67.5%) employers of program graduates completed and re- turned the 15-item survey. The graduate and employer survey lengths were different because of the demographic data collected. This sample of employers may not have employed more than a small percentage of the graduates from 2001-2006, but rather employers from other years of graduation. The responses of graduates and employers revealed definite strengths and weaknesses of graduates in the job skill categories, along with areas that were modestly rated, but still need improvement. Through the examination of graduate and employer perception data, the following strengths in job preparedness skills of program graduates were identified: (a) the ability to work in teams and (b) the ability to follow a project to completion. The remaining job skill items under study in this research were rated with moderate scores, revealing the need for improvement in those areas. The following weaknesses in job preparedness skills of program graduates were also identified through this study: (a) the ability to work with clients, (b) the ability to communicate with clients, (c) skills in sketching, (d) knowledge regarding issues of salary and benefits offered in the industry, (e) the ability to determine project estimates, and (f) skills in utilizing project management software. The process and tools utilized in this internal formative program evaluation can serve as a model for other design education programs to judge the effectiveness of design- related education programs as well as other programs in higher education.

Keywords: design|graphic communications|visual communications|higher education

How to Cite:

Higgins, B. S., (2008) “Program Evaluation: Utilizing Graduate and Employer Perception Data in Determining Graduates’ Job Preparedness Levels”, Journal of Industrial Technology 24(3).

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Published on
30 Jun 2008