Published in NACTA Journal, September 1, 2006, pages 45-50.
Journal website: http://www.nactateachers.org/nacjournal.htm
Master's degree recipients from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at Cal Poly State University were surveyed to assess 1) their satisfaction with the M.S. program, and 2) the extent to which key learning outcomes were attained. Emphasis was placed on the graduate's perception of the value of their thesis or creative project experience in developing technical competency and skills in communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, and decision making.
CAFES M.S. alumni were generally positive in their perception of the graduate program, though written comments indicated dissatisfaction with various program aspects among some graduates. Most respondents felt their professionally related skills (e.g. communication, leadership, problem-solving, etc.) were enhanced by their graduate school experience.
Students who completed a thesis reported significantly higher levels of skill development in writing, analytical methods, and research competency, compared to non-thesis students. Further, the educational value and challenge of a written thesis were considered significantly greater by students than for creative projects or internships.
Most respondents were satisfied with faculty mentoring and considered the M.S. program helpful in career advancement.