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Curricular Integration Of Computational Tools: A First Step

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Curriculum Innovation & Assessment

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.382.1 - 10.382.10



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Paper Authors

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Mark Urban-Lurain

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Taner Eskil

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Marilyn Amey

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Timothy Hinds

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Jon Sticklen

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


Curricular Integration of Computational Tools: A First Step

Timothy Hinds, Mark Urban-Lurain, Jon Sticklen,

Marilyn Amey, Taner Eskil

Michigan State University


Calls for new paradigms for engineering education are widespread.1-3 Yet, major curricular change is difficult to accomplish for many reasons, including having the necessary faculty buy- in.4 Generally, efforts can be classified as either top-down/structural, in which faculty assess an entire program of study and address needs in each component before implementation begins; or bottom-up/individual, a more traditional approach that implements change in one course at a time. Faculty buy-in, consensus, and resources (unit and institutional) needed for the top-down approach make it difficult to accomplish. On the other hand, the bottom-up model is slow, the assumption that curricular reform can be affected by an accumulation of individual course adaptations is unproven, and the change goals need to have a more systemic focus. Unless the curriculum helps students integrate material across their courses, they have difficulty seeing how the material they learn in one course will connect to the next.

We have performed a pair of initial studies using an evolutionary approach to curricular reform that capitalized on the strengths of both the top-down and bottom-up models, and was built on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) reform literature. This approach developed a pairwise linkage among strategic courses in the engineering curricula to promote curricular integration and helped students see connections between their first-year courses and subsequent courses.

Vertically integrated problem-based learning scenarios that link across courses are crucial to this model. Pre-reform data collected in the first study showed that students taking an introductory computing course did not see the importance of learning a particular software tool (MATLAB), because they did not see connections to their future courses. This had negative impacts on student motivation, learning, and retention. In our recent work, which was our first vertical effort, we focused on MATLAB with integration of the learning of this engineering tool in an “Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition

Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Urban-Lurain, M., & Eskil, T., & Amey, M., & Hinds, T., & Sticklen, J. (2005, June), Curricular Integration Of Computational Tools: A First Step Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14656

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