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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 87-94
    Received: July 3, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): jgraveel@purdue.edu
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Using Alumni Input as a Reality Check of Agronomy Teaching and Advising

  1. John G. Graveel * and
  2. James J. Vorst
  1. Department of Agronomy, 915 W. State St., Lilly Hall of Life Sciences, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054


As part of a systematic review of the undergraduate curricula and courses, the perceptions of Purdue agronomy alumni who graduated between 1960 and 2003 were obtained. A survey was administered to assess outcomes, identify gaps in the curriculum, measure how well the program addresses current and future needs, and provide a direction for change. There were 286 respondents to the survey, which was sent to 1446 alumni. Survey results indicated that the agronomy curriculum prepared graduates well in technical areas, problem solving skills, and increased their ability to integrate information. Oral communication skills, diversity issues, and business skills were listed as areas in which they were least prepared. Respondents suggested that problem solving should receive more emphasis in the curriculum. On average, they suggested that the curriculum should emphasize the practical and theoretical aspects equally, that two semesters of foreign language be included, and that international studies be emphasized. Factors that most influenced alumni decisions to major in Agronomy included: recommendation of friends, Purdue's reputation, and their interest in agronomic topics. Interestingly, alumni respondents indicated that high school counselors had essentially no influence on their decision to major in agronomy.

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