June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.24.1 - 12.24.13
A Cooperative Learning Model in Multi-disciplines across Universities in Freshman Courses Abstract
Instructors are constantly seeking innovative methods to teach students the engineering concepts in freshmen classes. Freshmen classes are particularly important for student retention, since these classes are the students’ “first impression” of the engineering department or program. Additionally, the freshman classes are where the students are expected to begin learning soft skills besides the fundamental concepts. In this paper, a cooperative learning model and its first implementation are presented. The cooperative learning model and exercises involve multiple freshman groups from two universities, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi and Texas A&M University - Kingsville, encompassing electrical engineering freshmen, engineering technology freshmen and freshmen students representing general engineering. The tasks involved in the cooperative learning project stimulated student interest and engagement in addition to enabling the students to acquire information, knowledge and skills that the instructors outlined in their corresponding project objectives and outcomes. Evaluation was performed by the successful completion of the project, student satisfaction surveys, and the student acknowledgement and awareness of challenges and resolutions along the way. Student deliverables and presentations demonstrate the increased retention of concepts using the developed cooperative learning model.
Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Introduction to Engineering Technology are two very important freshman courses in the electrical engineering and engineering technology curricula. These two courses expose the students to topics in their related fields and help them understand prospects and expectations in these fields. In addition to engineering and technology related topics, these courses cover methods and skills necessary for the students to be successful in their chosen area of study. The skills emphasized in these courses range from simple math skills to use of software, internet, as well as engineering problem solving techniques. Besides the technical skills, the students are also expected to develop soft skills that are necessary in the engineering and technology fields, such as teamwork, ethical and professional responsibilities, communications, and time management, all deemed an integral part of the learning experience, and necessary by the ABET accreditation guidelines.
Since introductory courses play an important role in student retention and success, there is a need to generate new ideas and develop creative teaching strategies to ensure student interest, attention and learning. Many groups studied innovative methods to achieve the desired classroom goals. The following section reviews some of the relevant findings in the literature. The proposed method and its pilot implementation are discussed in Section 1.2.
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