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Carry Over Effects Of A Freshman Engineering Program As Identified By Faculty Ratings

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Assessing Teaching and Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.282.1 - 7.282.8



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Paper Authors

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John Dantzler

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Kevin Whitaker

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Jim Richardson

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

Main Menu Session Number 3530

Carry-Over Effects of a Freshman Engineering Program as Identified by Faculty Ratings

John Dantzler, James Richardson, Kevin Whitaker The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 35487


For seven years, The University of Alabama’s College of Engineering has presented incoming freshmen with the opportunity to participate in a non-traditional first year program called TIDE (Teaming, Integration, and Design in Engineering). Components of TIDE that differ from the traditional first year program are cohort grouping, cooperative learning, team design projects, and an emphasis on written and oral communication. Student record data indicates that the program has improved retention in the engineering program but has had minimal effect on achievement. Anecdotal evidence from follow-on teachers, however, suggests that the TIDE program may have soft skill carry-over effects. Upper-class engineering students who participated in the TIDE program may exhibit more confidence, better communication skills and greater team skills than their traditional program counterparts.

To test this hypothesis, engineering faculty who teach downstream design courses that rely heavily on student soft skills were asked to rate past students on a variety of dimensions. Each rater was presented with a list of their past students matched on high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores. These students were not identified to the raters as either TIDE or traditional students. Ratings for each skill were completed on a rubric-style scale designed to ensure consistency of rating meaning across raters. All data was collected during the 2000-01 academic year. A discussion of the analysis and implications will be presented.


The importance of non-technical “soft” skills in the engineering workplace is well documented. Evans et al. 1 surveyed 737 engineering alumni on the relative importance of 10 attributes of engineering graduates, and on the perceived competency of recent engineering graduates with respect to each attribute. Summarizing the results the authors state, “This is indicative of the mounting evidence that employers, especially those that have joined the quality revolution, are desperate for people who do not have to learn on the job how to fit into a team- centered culture where communication, interpersonal skills, and professionalism, are as important as technical skills.”

Lonsdale et al.2 have developed a capstone design course that develops soft as well as technical skills. Results of a survey of 410 engineering alumni showed the greatest discrepancy between the importance of a skill and the preparation they received in college was in communication skills and team skills. The authors also quote a report on surveys of engineering Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Dantzler, J., & Whitaker, K., & Richardson, J. (2002, June), Carry Over Effects Of A Freshman Engineering Program As Identified By Faculty Ratings Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10423

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