Multi-Level Assessment of Program Outcomes: Assessing a Nontraditional Study Abroad Program in the Engineering Disciplines


  • David DiBiasio
  • Natalie A. Mello



Assessment, Program Outcomes, Non-traditional Study Abroad, Engineering Education


At Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) a Global Perspective Program (GPP) has evolved that provides an international experience for most graduates. Currently more than half of WPI students travel internationally to do academic work. The GPP grew from the basic project-based educational structure implemented over 30 years ago. In this paper, we describe the structure and operation but will emphasize the multilevel assessment process used to understand student learning and improve the program. Although our specifics are related to technical education, our assessment design and implementation may be useful to a much wider audience.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

David DiBiasio

David DiBiasio is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Assessment Coordinator for the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is also Director of WPI’s Washington D.C. Project Center. His undergraduate and graduate degrees are from Purdue University. His research interests are in engineering education including understanding the process of student learning, international education, and educational assessment.

Natalie A. Mello

Natalie A. Mello, Director of Global Operations in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, oversees the administration of WPI’s global perspective program. She holds a B.A. from Connecticut College and graduate degrees from Clark University. A member of the Interorganizational Task Force on Health and Safety in Study Abroad, she contributed to the latest edition of NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad.


Arreola, R. (2000). Developing a Comprehensive Faculty Evaluation System. (2nd ed.) Boston: Anker Publishers.

Besterfield-Sacre, M., L.J. Shuman, H. Wolfe, C.J. Atman, J. McGourty, R.L. Miller, B.M. Olds, and G.M. Rogers, (2000). Defining the Outcomes: A Framework for EC 2000. IEEE Transactions on Education 43 (2), 100-110.

Brown, A.L. and A.S. Palinscar, (1989). Guided Cooperative Learning and Individual Knowledge Acquisition. In L.B. Resnick (Ed.) Knowing, Learning, and Instruction: Essays in Honor of Robert Glaser, Hillsdale, N.J. : L. Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, J.S., A. Collins, and P. Duguid, (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning, Educational Researcher. Jan-Feb, 32-42.

Bruer, J.T., (1993) Schools for Thought: A Science of Learning in the Classroom, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Davis, T. M., (2003). Open Doors 2001/2002: Report on International Educational Exchange, Institute of International Education, New York, N.Y. retrieved March 1, 2004, from the World Wide Web:

Davis, P.W. and N.A. Mello, (2003, January). A World-Class Education, Last Word, ASEE Prism, 68.

Dewey, J., (1974). John Dewey on Education: Selected Writings. R.D. Archambault (Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

DiBiasio, D., N.A. Mello, and D. Woods, (April, 2000). Multidisciplinary Teamwork: Academic Practices and Assessment of Student Outcomes. Paper presented at Best Assessment Processes III Conference, Rose-Hulman University, Terre Haute, IN.

DiBiasio, D. (2001, June) Outcomes Assessment of an International Engineering Experience. Conference Proceedings of Annual American Society of Engineering Educators meeting, Albuquerque, N.M.

Harriss, J., (2002, September 6). Turning the Tide, Smithsonian, 33, 6.

Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (2000). An Instructional Design Framework for Authentic Learning Environments, Educ. Tech. Res. and Dev., v. 48(3), 23-48.

Kaufmann, D.B., R.M. Felder, and H. Fuller, (2000). Accounting for Individual Effort in Cooperative Learning Teams. Journal of Engineering Education, 89(2), 133-140.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Loacker, G. (Ed.) (2000). Self Assessment at Alverno College, Milwaukee, WI: Alverno College Institute.

McClelland, D. C. (1998, September). Identifying Competencies with Behavioral Event Interviews, Psychological Science, 9(5), 331.

Mello, N.A. (2001, summer) Risk Management and How WPI Meets the Guidelines of NAFSA, SAFETI Consortium,

Mentkowski , M. Associates. (2000). Learning That Lasts, Integrating Learning, Development, and Performance in College and Beyond, Milwaukee, WI : Alverno College Publications.

Rogoff, B. & Lave, J. (Eds.) (1984). Everyday Cognition: Its Development in Social Context. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Woods, D. R. (1994). Problem-Based Learning: How to Gain the Most in PBL, Waterdown, Ontario: D.R. Woods Publishing.

Zwingle, E., (1991, August). Italy’s Endangered Art. National Geographic Magazine, 196, 2.

—. (2002, May 12, 13 and 19). Venice Under Siege. National Geographic Out There. National Geographic Channel.




How to Cite

DiBiasio, D., & Mello, N. A. (2004). Multi-Level Assessment of Program Outcomes: Assessing a Nontraditional Study Abroad Program in the Engineering Disciplines. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10(1), 237–252.