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Publication Date


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ASEE Annual Conference (American Society for Engineering Education)

Peer Reviewed



Prior to 1997, ABET evaluators focused on inputs to engineering education. Responding to a four decade trend in quality management systems used in manufacturing and service industries, ABET began measuring outputs instead, and focused on continuous improvement. Students, professors, program coordinators, and department chairs must answer three questions: [1] what are we doing well, [2] what are we not doing well, and [3] how do we improve? In some cases, we can use graphical data presentation techniques to answer these questions. Scatter graphs show relationships between variables that are not evident in tables, and they show changes in variables with respect to time. A student may ask “why is my grade lower than I would like?” We can use graphs to show the student's progress in real time as the semester advances, then predict the final course grade based on alternate hypotheses (e.g., “I will earn 90% on all remaining assignments”; “I will barely pass the remaining assignments”). As a professor, I asked why the failure rate in Strength of Materials is so high, then used a variety of graphs and tables to determine the indicators for success and failure. As a consequence, my department made a curriculum change in Fall 2014; we should see results starting in Fall 2015.

This paper shows how I used graphical data presentation techniques in undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Technology classes such as Materials & Processes, to improve student success, teaching effectiveness, and curriculum.


graphical data presentation



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