Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Course Every Department Can (Should?) Teach-Graduating Senior Survey

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Course Every Department Can (Should?) Teach-Graduating Senior Survey

Article excerpt


A Graduating Senior Survey course has been required of Agricultural Business majors at Iowa State University since 1997. Specific course goals include collecting valuable outcomes assessment information while, at the same time, assisting graduating seniors with various graduation issues. The format of this course is intended to facilitate the administration of an academic program rather than to disseminate specific, subject-matter knowledge. As such, experiences and observations from past offerings of this course should have widespread appeal and relevance.


Over the years, this NACTA Journal has promoted the professional advancement of college-level teaching in agriculture through the sharing of ideas in published articles dealing with, among other things, not only innovative teaching techniques but also new and interesting courses. The goal of this article is to add to the literature dealing with innovative course offerings.

A number of course-related articles in this journal over the past decade have dealt with discipline-specific courses. Examples have included an agricultural cooperative business course (Raven, Bishop, and Wright, 1994), an international agribusiness management course (Akridge, Erickson, Boehlje, and Kazragyte, 1996), an integrated course in agricultural biology (Ferguson and Chapman, 1996), an animal science discovery course for freshmen (Kesler, 1997), an introductory food science course (Murano and Knight, 1999), a graduate animal breeding course (Herring, Thomas, and Enns, 2001), and an undergraduate plant science course (Tignor, Wilson, and Wilson, 2002).

Other course-related articles over this same time period have described courses that have focused on subjects and topics that are more generic in nature and could be taught within most, if not all, disciplines in colleges of agriculture. Examples have included a job-search skills course (Stephens, Brockman, and Davis, 1992), a capstone course (Wright, 1992; Zimmerman, 1997; Andreasen and Trede, 2000), and an orientation course (Zimmerman, 1999). This article will describe a Graduating Senior Survey course that fits into the generic category.

Course Background

For every semester beginning fall 1997, the Department of Economics at Iowa State University has required graduating seniors majoring in Agricultural Business to take an R-credit Graduating Senior Survey course. The R-credit designation means that it is required for graduation while carrying zero semester credit for academic purposes. The four main goals of this course are 1) to assist students with graduation and career placement, 2) to collect outcomes assessment information, 3) to help prepare students for alumni life, and 4) to enhance student relations. The remainder of this article will discuss these course goals along with related procedures and observations.

With the exception of a resume assignment, students are able to complete all course-related assignments in class. Students who miss a class for any reason are required to complete all in-class assignments for that day outside of class. There are no required readings for the course. The course meets for an hour five times during the semester (one time each during the first week and the last four weeks of the semester). The daily class agendas have typically been as follows:

Class #1: Course introduction, overview, and objectives, including:

* Review graduation requirements

* Discuss the current job market outlook

* Explain alternative job search procedures

* Collect current plans after graduation information

Class #2: Students provide outcomes assessment information by completing various in-class, written surveys.

Class #3: Selected faculty members listen to student's oral comments about their educational experiences and to respond to students' questions or concerns.

Class #4: A certified financial planner discusses issues related to financial management and planning after graduation, including opportunities and expectations regarding alumni. …

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