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Application of, and Preliminary Results from, Implementing the First-year Introduction to Engineering Course Classification Scheme: Course Foci and Outcome Frequency

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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

26.6.1 - 26.6.21



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Paper Authors


David Reeping Ohio Northern University Orcid 16x16

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David Reeping is a junior majoring in Engineering Education with a minor in Mathematics and an undergraduate research assistant. He is a Choose Ohio First scholar inducted during the 2012-2013 school year and the recipient of the Remsburg Creativity Award for 2013 and The DeBow Freed Award for outstanding leadership as an undergraduate student (sophomore male) in 2014. Also, he is a member of the freshman honorary society (Alpha Lambda Delta / Phi Eta Sigma) and the mathematics honorary society (Kappa Mu Epsilon). His research interests involve first year engineering course analysis, authentic projects and assessments, and K-12 engineering.

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Kenneth J Reid Virginia Tech

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Kenneth Reid is the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Programs and an Associate Professor in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is active in engineering within K-12, serving on the TSA Boards of Directors and over 10 years on the IEEE-USA STEM Literacy Committee. He was awarded an IEEE-USA Professional Achievement Award in 2013 for designing the nation's first BS degree in Engineering Education. He was named NETI Faculty Fellow for 2013-2014, and the Herbert F. Alter Chair of Engineering (Ohio Northern University) in 2010. His research interests include success in first-year engineering, engineering in K-12, introducing entrepreneurship into engineering, and international service and engineering. He has written two texts in Digital Electronics, including the text used by Project Lead the Way.

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Application of and Preliminary Results from Implementing the First Year Engineering Classification Scheme: Course Foci and Outcome FrequencyThe Classification Scheme for First Year Engineering Courses is a tool that was developed toenable university engineering departments to authentically compare first year engineeringcourse(s) to other institutions and accurately award credit to transfer students. This schemeoutlines the finite list of outcomes that are commonly found in a first year engineering course. Inthe process of validating the classification scheme, a workshop was held where a group of 28professors with an inherent interest in first-year engineering were tasked to classify their “Introto Engineering” course at their respective universities using an iteration of the classificationscheme. Participants ‘checked’ outcomes covered in their introductory course, allowing forcomparison between similar courses.With 28 participants spanning 24 different universities, the completed schemes became asizeable sample of different introductory engineering courses offered at a portion of the nation’scolleges. Two different methodologies were employed in this effort. First, the outcomes checkedin each course were plotted using a radial chart in order to provide a visual representation of thecourse itself. Due to the visual nature of these charts, multiple courses could be directlycompared. Computing the statistical five number summary for the data produces boundaries andregions defined by the quartiles and that allow for courses to be visually compared to others inthe sample. The working hypothesis tied to this methodology is that a first year engineeringcourse can be assigned at most four unique areas of concentration, operationally defined ascourse foci, given by the heading outcomes in the scheme. Validation of the hypothesis wouldlead to defining foci of courses to extract common themes and group similar programsaccordingly.The second methodology involves the examination of the individual course outcomes to find thefrequency with which each outcome was marked. Grouping by quartiles again allows for popularcourse outcomes to be flagged and holistically interpreted for meaning. We hypothesize theexistence of a finite number of “Introduction to Engineering” courses which can be categorizedbased on the sample and verified by investigating larger populations. Finally, defining contentfrequently covered implies the existence of assessment gaps that can be further determinedthrough both methodologies.This paper will present the development of both methodologies and the implications of theresults generated with respect to the data set. Discussion on expanding the application of theClassification Scheme for First Year Engineering Courses will also be included.

Reeping, D., & Reid, K. J. (2015, June), Application of, and Preliminary Results from, Implementing the First-year Introduction to Engineering Course Classification Scheme: Course Foci and Outcome Frequency Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23339

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