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A Model For Coordination And Management Of Resources For Multiple Sections Of An Active Learning Style Freshman Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session


Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.59.1 - 14.59.14

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Paper Authors


Jean Nocito-Gobel University of New Haven

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Jean Nocito-Gobel, an Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of New Haven, received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is currently serving as the Coordinator for the First Year Program. Her professional interests include modeling the transport and fate of contaminants in groundwater and surface water systems, as well as engineering education reform.

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Amy Thompson University of New Haven

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Amy Thompson, an Assistant Professor of System Engineering at the University of New Haven, performed her graduate studies in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. Her academic and professional interests include designing supply chains and transportation networks for multinational companies, developing scheduling models for complex systems and developing improvements in system engineering processes and approaches.

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Carl Barratt University of New Haven

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Carl Barratt, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Haven, received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Cambridge University, England. His area of research is nonlinear systems and chaos.

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Michael Collura University of New Haven

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MICHAEL A. COLLURA, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of New Haven, received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Lafayette College and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University. He is currently serving as the Engineering Foundation Program Coordinator. His professional interests include the application of computers to process modeling and control, as well as reform of engineering education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Model for Coordination and Management of Resources for Multiple Sections of an Active Learning Style Freshman Course Much research in recent years has verified that an active learning style approach to freshman engineering design courses adds value to undergraduate engineering programs and improves retention rates. Many universities have established First Year Programs to coordinate the activities and classes for first year students. However, not all universities have the funds to establish programs separate from disciplinary programs. How can faculty that are not assigned to a First Year Program efficiently manage multiple sections of a hands-on course with limited resources?

There are several models for teaching basic engineering concepts in electrical, mechanical, chemical, computer, civil and system engineering to freshman engineering students. One approach is faculty team-based with each faculty member teaching their specialty at some point during the course. Another approach involves the teaching of basic engineering concepts in only discipline-specific courses by faculty members whose specialties encompass that course’s concepts. Both of these traditional approaches described do not require the amount of coordination and overall support from a program coordinator because the faculty members are delivering concepts within their realm of expertise. However, in our model, where one faculty member from one of the engineering programs is teaching basic concepts from all disciplines, a coordinator is needed to ensure that the basic concepts are covered in a consistent and high- quality way.

EAS107P Introduction to Engineering – Project-Based is taken by all incoming engineering freshmen first semester at the University of New Haven as part of the Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral curriculum. Throughout the course, students are introduced to basic engineering concepts through a series of hands-on projects. Student understanding is enhanced as these topics are revisited in subsequent courses taken during the second semester freshman year and through the sophomore year. This approach requires significant collaboration between faculty involved in the spiral curriculum courses in order to achieve the program’s intended results, namely, academic consistency across sections, and the need to adequately prepare students for the next tier of courses.

This paper discusses our experience at the University of New Haven in addressing issues that arise when running multiple sections of a first semester freshman engineering course. Some of the management issues that occur involve scheduling time of teaching assistants, planning and purchasing materials, scheduling classrooms, recruiting and training full time faculty and adjunct faculty and planning for their schedules, and managing the dissemination of information under tight budget constraints.


Many changes in engineering education over the past 20 years have focused on enhancing the first year experience to improve the academic performance and persistence of engineering students. These enhancements include first year courses, student assistance programs inside the

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