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Creating a First Year Engineering Course Utilizing the SCALE-Up Method

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2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

WIP: Engineering Education Research - Focus on Problem Solving

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Conference - Works in Progress Submission

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David Joseph Ewing The University of Texas at Arlington

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Earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pensacola Christian College and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University. He spent several years teaching in a first year engineering program at Clemson University. He is now a senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he continues to teach first year engineering courses. Combined, he has been teaching first year engineering courses for over five years. His previous research involved thermal management systems for military vehicles.

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To meet the growing demands for professional engineers, retaining increasing numbers of engineering students has become a primary focus at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). To address this need, UTA conducted a study to identify core issues that highly affected student retention and success. The findings of this study identified that students were ill-equipped to deal with the rigors of the engineering curriculum. Specifically, students were found to be deficient in the areas of problem solving, professional writing, and computer programming. Therefore, UTA has recently created a new first year engineering course focused on improving these specific skill areas and available for students in Pre-Calculus and above. In order to adapt to the wide dispersion of learning styles, socio-economic backgrounds, and prior knowledge that students have at UTA, the course utilizes the Student-Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies (SCALE-Up) method. This method was originally created at NC State University and is now used in many of the nation’s top universities. The strengths of this method are focused on creating a highly active and collaborative environment that fosters interaction not only among student groups but also among students and their instructors. The method, relying specifically on peer instruction, problem-based learning, and active environments, has been shown to be effective. To foster these interactions, UTA built a brand new classroom that emphasizes active learning over more passive methods. This course also employs undergraduate students as in-class instructional assistants who not only assist during the active participation within class but also coordinate evening problem-solving sessions for additional instruction. This presentation will explore student performance within the class by comparing many different student groupings, breaking down students by admission status, gender, underrepresented minorities, and engineering departments. This presentation will also present early surveys showing that student perception of this approach to teaching and learning have aided in their problem solving, critical thinking skills, and their approach in other difficult STEM classes.

Ewing, D. J. (2017, August), Creating a First Year Engineering Course Utilizing the SCALE-Up Method Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

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