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Analyzing Longitudinal Performance from Multi-course Alignment for First-year Engineering Students: Calculus, Physics, and Programming in MATLAB

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 11: Curricular and Program Innovations

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.216.1 - 26.216.10



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Paper Authors


Caroline Liron Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Caroline Liron is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Fundamentals Department, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), where she has been teaching since 2005. She obtained her bachelor's in Aeronautics and Space from EPF, Ecole d'Ingénieur (France), and her M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from ERAU. She currently teaches Introduction to Programming for Engineers. She is involved in developing and maintaining the hybrid version of that class, and researching improvements methods to teach programming to incoming freshmen using new technologies. She also researches means to incorporate more engineering mathematics and physics into the programming course, as this specific programming course is "for engineers".

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Heidi M Steinhauer Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Heidi M. Steinhauer is an Associate Professor of Engineering, Department Chair of the Engineering Fundamentals Department, co-advisor for the only all-women’s Baja SAE Team, Founding Member of FIRST (Female Initiative Reaching Success Together), and former director for GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science). Dr. Steinhauer’s awards include the ABET Presidential Award of Diversity and a three time winner of the Women’s Vision Award. She has presented papers at ASEE Annual Conference, the ASEE Global Colloquium, Research in Engineering Education Symposium, Engineering Design Graphics Division Mid-Year Conference, Additive Manufacturers Users Group, and Solid Free-Form Fabrication Symposium. Her research interests center around the development and assessment of students’ spatial visualization skills, the effective integration of 3D modeling into engineering design, and the impact of contextualized hands-on applications on student learning and success. She has taught Engineering Graphics, Introduction to Engineering Design, Automation and Rapid Prototyping, and has developed several advanced applications of 3D modeling courses. Dr. Steinhauer received her B.S. in Aircraft Engineering and her M.S. in Systems Engineering, and her Pd.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech.

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Analyzing retention and performance from Multi-Course Alignment for 1st Year Engineering Students: Mathematics, Physics, and Programming in MATLABOur first year students struggle to synthesize concepts across Programming for Engineers,Calculus I, and Physics I courses. While calculus and physics are the tools to be utilized byengineers to solve problems, our students are often unable to see that the knowledge presented inthe mathematical and physics context can be transferred to solve engineering problems. Studentsalso tend to think of programming as an isolated component of engineering, while they shouldview programming as yet another tool to verify results or to solve more complex problems.Since Fall 2013, three faculty members have linked their classes so that students are in a STEM(science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) small-learning-community (SLC). Thesame set of students is registered for all three courses simultaneously. Last year's researchfocused on student performance impact of all three faculty developing several real-worldapplication problems that require leveraging knowledge horizontally across all three courses.Another aspect of the research is the community in which students feel a part of a lot sooner thanregular students. Their performance in first-year classes showed promising. A continuation of thestudy is to analyze retention rate in the University, and performance in future core engineeringcourses: Physics II, Calculus II, Solid Mechanics, and Statics.To continue measuring the impact of the integrated multi-disciplinary problems on studentlearning, a mid-term focus group comprised of the STEM SLC students will be interviewed by amember from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. The gathered feedback is takeninto account to improve course structure and delivery. The previous SLC students from lastsemesters will also be contacted to see any impact in their current life at the University:performance and satisfaction.An end-of-semester feedback survey will also be given to all students, both those in and out ofthe STEM SLC, to evaluate the overall program success and identify the areas for improvement.The survey was improved from last year, with more community-focused questions. It is likelythat with more of a community feeling, students will tend to stay at the University, rather thanleave.Final semester grades between the STEM SLC and the control group will be compared tomeasure the impact of the program. Longitudinal Math, Physics, and Statics data have beencollected for the students who participated in the STEM SLC since Fall 2013and compared tostudents who did not. As students are presented with multiple methods of solving a problem, it isexpected that students understanding, problem-solving ability, and critical thinking skills will besignificantly improved. Students are therefore expected to perform better in their next coreclasses: Physics II, Calculus II, Solid Mechanics, and Statics.

Liron, C., & Steinhauer, H. M. (2015, June), Analyzing Longitudinal Performance from Multi-course Alignment for First-year Engineering Students: Calculus, Physics, and Programming in MATLAB Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23555

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