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Kulturel-Konak receives National Science Foundation grant

Sadan Kulturel-Konak
Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak

Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems at Penn State Berks and program coordinator for the Entrepreneurship Minor, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for her research titled “A Modular Assessment Framework for Professional Skills Using a Model of Domain Learning Approach.” The grant is effective from May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2015.

The project utilizes an innovative assessment framework based on a pedagogical theory, the Model of Domain Learning (MDL), to assess student development in various professional skills across multiple disciplines.

In order to meet the demands of a global economy, new college graduates are required to have strong professional skills, in addition to first-rate technical backgrounds to ensure career success. In response to new standards, professional skills such as teamwork/communication, ethics, global awareness, creative problem solving, and leadership have been integrated into academic programs and courses.

However, challenges arise in the assessment of learning outcomes related to professional skills; these include difficulty in defining measurable learning outcomes, lack of uniform assessment models that provide guidance at different stages of students’ progress, and challenges of incorporating assessment instruments, based on different models, into an overall program assessment plan.

Through the design of a uniform assessment framework for all professional skills and the development of a set of coherent assessment instruments that can be modified according to the learning objectives and student level, this project strives to facilitate the integration of professional skills assessment into an overall program assessment plan. The proposed framework will be tested in various course levels (first year to senior), and will include the programs of Information Sciences and Technology, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Engineering, at various institutions.

Proper assessment of professional skills will reveal insightful information about the learning process, which will enhance educational processes and better prepare students in these skill areas. Likewise, industry and society in general will benefit from having professionals with diverse skills, both technical and professional, ready to compete in a global economy.

Additionally, this project not only encourages collaboration between different disciplines and institutions to share resources and knowledge, but also promotes cooperation with industry to obtain feedback and corporate perspectives regarding this research.

Dr. Sadan Kulturel served as Primary Investigator (PI) of this project. Dr. Abdullah Konak, Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State Berks; Dr. Gul Kremer, Associate Professor of Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering at Penn State University Park; and Dr. Ivan Esparragoza, Associate Professor of Engineering at Penn State Brandywine; shared in the responsibility of the scientific or technical direction of this project, and are considered co-PI.


The grant falls under the Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (TUES) program of NSF. All proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort.

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