In the fall of 2013, a new bachelor program, the Applied Science and Technology (AST) program, was established at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. The program is a two-year program, and it accepts third-year students who have excellent skills. Here, “excellent skills” means that these students have been ranked top in a national skills competition, or even in Worldskills, a well-known international skills competition. The aim of the AST program is to allow the students to become professionals with global perspectives. The program is different from the other professional education in Taiwan. The difference is that each student in this program has a customized curriculum: the students only need to take the technical courses that are related to their skills. The reason to make this change was to allow AST students to perform better in academics due to fewer compulsory courses, and for the students to have more time to improve their skills and their English proficiency.
The AST program has been implemented for only one year. No similar program has previously existed; consequently, we wanted to understand if the program was on the right track. The objective of the research was to evaluate the performance of this AST programs based on the responses from students, advisors, and an internship employer.
We used both surveys and interviews to evaluate the AST program. We surveyed eighteen students, eight student advisors, and one internship employer by using questionnaires. In addition, we also interviewed two internship students in a foreign country, and used the interview results and the comments from their internship advisor as part of our evaluation.
Based on the survey, the internship employer was satisfied with two out of three AST students. Regarding the accomplishment of the educational objectives and the student learning outcomes, many of the students’ performances are rated at excellent or good levels by their advisors and themselves; a few students’ performances are rated as average. The interview results also showed that two students who were interviewed were satisfied with the program, and the advisor who interviewed them was also pleased with the students’ work.
We used the survey and the interview to assess the AST program for skilled students. Most of the feedback from the internship employer, the advisors, and the students was satisfactory or above average, from which we may infer that the AST program is well established and focussed on its objectives. We are confident that the program can lead to a new direction for current professional education in Taiwan.
Skilled students, customized curriculum.