The College of Technology changes aeronautics comprehensive exit exam

Arielle Campanalie

The College of Technology’s aeronautics program plans to change its comprehensive exit exam for students graduating in fall 2013.

Maureen McFarland, director of the aeronautics program, said in order to obtain a degree, all technology students in the aeronautics program are required to pass the comprehensive exit exam, which is an assessment of what aeronautics students have learned throughout the course of their four years in the program.

“The comprehensive exit exam was structured several years ago and went into effect in 2008 under the previous program director,” said McFarland. “It is much like a comprehensive exam someone will take for a master’s or comprehensive degree program.”

McFarland said the exam is changing based on feedback from students, faculty and student performances on the current comprehensive exit exams.

“We don’t feel that [the comprehensive exit exam] is really assessing students’ learning,” said McFarland. “The way the exam is now, students get the questions ahead of time, and they can just memorize the questions before the exam.”

McFarland said the aeronautics program wants to create more scenario-based questions that pertain to each area of concentration in the program. She said with the new comprehensive exit exam, students will not be given the scenarios before the exam as they have been previously. Students will, however, have access to any of their books, notes, and any information they want to bring with them to the exam.

“It’s going to require a lot more grading and a lot more interpretation from the facility,” said McFarland. “But we think it will give a better assessment of the student and what the students are learning as they walk out the door to start their careers.”

Raymond Weber, assistant aeronautics professor, said he is in favor of having changes made to the exam. He said the new exam would showcase critical thinking skills and the capability to analyze a certain situation through writing.

McFarland said as part of the Aviation Accreditation Board International and

the Kent State Accreditation Board, the aeronautics program must assess its program and insure its curriculum is adequate to professional success.

Zach Lilly, a certified flight instructor at the Navy Annapolis Flight Center, graduated from the Kent State’s aeronautics program in May 2012 with a degree in flight technology and passed the current comprehensive exit exam.

“I think the exit exam showcased my memorization ability,” Lilly said. “I think the new exam will serve more of a purpose with scenario based questions in a way, where previously, you had the questions before the exam and kind of just memorized the answers and hopefully repeated it well on the test. Now you can use the knowledge you should have learned in the class instead of just rote memorization.”

Cristen Futcher, senior aeronautics major with a concentration in flight technology, will be one of the first students to take the new exit exam next fall. Futcher said she is a little nervous for the exam because she doesn’t know what to expect.

“Within the aeronautics major there are several concentrations, and we are required to take some classes that sometimes pertain more to another concentration,” Futcher said. “Even though I think it’s important we become familiar with other concentrations, we don’t always apply the information we learn after the class like we do the information learned in classes that directly relates to our concentration specifically.”

McFarland said she hopes the new exam does not deter students from graduating in the aeronautics program.

“Its purpose is to provide an assessment tool for the program,” McFarland said, “and that’s the greater desire for having the exam.”

Arielle Campanalie is the transportation reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Arielle Campanalie at [email protected].