June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.216.1 - 26.216.10
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.
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