June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Design in Engineering Education
22.350.1 - 22.350.16
Looking in Canada for the “Valley of Despair” in sophomores and JuniorsAbstractPrior work has shown evidence of second and third year students in an engineering program gothrough a period when self- assessment of their engineering skills are much lower than in eitherfirst or senior years. The result was surprising since these students have been academicallysuccessful, yet they evidently feel less capable than freshmen. This was coined in previous workthe “Valley of Despair” for students. Several indicators from student surveys showed thisattitudinal difference. In past work, it was suggested that this loss of self-confidence andenthusiasm was partly the result of a “bookend” design curriculum where students undertakedesign projects in only their first-year and then again in a capstone design project. The“bookend” design programs are common in engineering schools throughout North America.The current paper takes the methodology applied at the University of Colorado at Boulder andlooks at students in a comparable “bookend” engineering program in several Atlantic Canadianuniversities affiliated with Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. In the work presented, studentsin several campuses and in each of the 4 years are surveyed for their attitudes towards theircapabilities and their levels of enthusiasm for the profession. Questions asked in the surveys areadapted from the work done previously at University of Colorado at Boulder. Of the 7campuses in the Dalhousie Affiliated University system, each has a different degree of designpractice in the second year, and the data is compared to assess the impact of second-year designprojects where they are part of the curriculum. In all of the survey results, the authors makecomparisons to assess the presence of the “Valley of Despair” in second- and third- year studentattitudes.
Trivett, A., & Kotys-Schwartz, D. A., & Cyrus, P. (2011, June), Comparison of Engineering Student Self-confidence at Two Universities Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17631
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