June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Electrical and Computer
23.187.1 - 23.187.19
An Update: The Engagement and Retention of Electrical Engineering Students with a First Semester Freshman Experience CourseFreshman retention has been a critical issue for engineering programs over the last decade.Universities have implemented many different approaches to improve freshman retentionincluding: creating general freshman courses to give early hands-on experience to the students1-4,utilizing student feedback to design courses5, and moving the ownership and maintenance oflaboratory equipment from the university to the students6. In the fall semester of 2009, theElectrical Engineering program at __________ took the initiative of creating and offering a firstsemester freshman experience course aimed at improving freshman retention. The rationale forcreating this course was based on student and faculty feedback, and comments provided bygraduating seniors during their senior exit interview. A number of students also expressed theirconcern about how late the electrical engineering laboratory experience is in the curriculum. Thedepartmental faculty took the decision to help electrical engineering students by developing acourse specially designed for their freshman year entitled “Engineering The Future: Electricaland Digital Concepts”. The only preparation expected from the students is high school algebra.The purpose of the course is to introduce the students to the different areas of ElectricalEngineering such as: History of Electrical Engineering, Electrical Concepts and Components,Digital Systems, Communications Systems, Electronics, Power Systems and ComputerEngineering. The students are also exposed to the National Electric Code and to the toolscommonly used by electrical engineering students like: oscilloscopes, multimeters, functionsgenerators, PSpice and MATLAB. Finally, to complement the freshman experience, practicingelectrical engineers are invited to talk about their experiences and a module on engineering yourcareer was introduced by design. The students are also expected to attend IEEE meetings, andstudy the IEEE Code of Ethics. The intention of the course is to provide the students with ahealthy exposure to professional practice and real projects in the different areas of electricalengineering7.Since then significant changes have been made to this course in order to make it more enjoyableand effective in retaining students. Some of these changes include the establishment of adepartmental template used to prepare the materials that are distributed to the students, theinclusion of virtual instruments such as the NI myDAQ and Labview, and the replacement ofPSpice with NI Multisim and Ultiboard. The last two software utilities have made the fabricationof the PCBs easier for the students and faculty. Furthermore, the students are required to use theNI myDAQ in some of their laboratories and in the final project which some of them alsoinclude the use of Labview.This paper will present the data collected as a part of the course offering over four academicyears, specifically split into two analysis categories. The first part of the data analysis will focuson the effect of the course on student retention, extracted from the freshman cohorts. The secondpart of the data analysis will focus on student surveys performed at the end of the semester. Thissurvey was designed to measure vital components of overall course effectiveness with finergranularity, including students understanding of topics such as the role of electrical engineersand their impact on society.References H. Knickle, “Foundations of Engineering a First Year Course”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, Washington, DC 1996. J. W. Pierre, F. K. Tuffner, “A One-Credit Hands-On Introductory Course In Electrical and Computer Engineering Using a Variety of Topics Modules”, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 52, No. 2, May 2009. Ronald Roth, “Improving Freshman Retention Through an Introduction to Engineering Design Course”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual, 2001, Albuquerque, NM 2001. Ruben Rojas-Oviedo, Dr. X. Cathy Qian, “Improving Retention of Undergraduate Students in Engineering through Freshman Courses”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual, Montréal, Quebec, Canada 2002. M. R. Anderson-Rowland, “Understanding Freshman Engineering Students Retention through a Survey”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, Milwaukee, WI, 1997. D. Hall, H. Hegab, and J. Nelson, “Living with the Lab – Freshman Curriculum to Boost Hands-on Learning, Student Confidence and Innovation”, 38th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Saratoga Springs, NY, 2008. Ochoa, Hector; Mukul, V. Shirvaikar, “The Engagement and Retention of Electrical Engineering Students with a First Semester Freshman Experience Course,” The 118th ASEE Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada, June, 2011.
Ochoa, H. A., & Shirvaikar, M. (2013, June), An Update: The Engagement and Retention of Electrical Engineering Students with a First Semester Freshman Experience Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19201
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015