Longitudinal Study of Learning Outcomes in a New Product Development Class

Corie Cobb, Alice Agogino, Sara Beckman
ASME DETC (2007)


This paper reports on a longitudinal study of lessons learned from a graduate-level New Product Development course taught at the University of California at Berkeley, comparing lessons learned by students during the course with alumni perceptions one to ten years after graduation. Previous research on student learning outcomes in New Product Development (NPD) found that on the last day of class students identify working in multifunctional teams and understanding user needs as their most important lessons learned. This study raises the question of whether or not students maintain the same emphasis on learning outcomes once they have moved on to careers in industry. To answer this question, we conducted 21 in-depth interviews with alumni who took the course between 1995-2005 and are now working in industry. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the alumni interviews reveals that former students still highly value what they learned about team work and understanding user needs, but see more value in tools for concept generation, prototyping, and testing after gaining work experience. The results reaffirm the value of engaging students in multidisciplinary design projects as a vehicle for developing the professional skills needed in today's competitive new product development environment.