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Design of novel courses to bridge knowledge gaps in engineering and reduce attrition and graduation delays

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Conference

2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting

Location

Virtually Hosted by the section

Publication Date

November 12, 2021

Start Date

November 12, 2021

End Date

November 13, 2021

Page Count

26

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38428

Download Count

21

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Paper Authors

biography

Beth (Ann Elizabeth) Wittig City University of New York, City College

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Dr. Wittig is a licensed professional engineer and LEED A.P. She earned her B.S. in chemical engineering from UCLA and her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UT Austin. Her doctoral research addressed the chemistry of ambient hydrocarbons in Central Texas and led her to develop a method to improve the accuracy of their source allocation. As a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, she oversaw the quality control and assurance of measurements collected at the Pittsburgh Air Quality Study (PAQS) Supersite, and researched the formation and growth of fine particles, the composition of individual particles, the transport of fine particles and their effect on visibility reduction. Before joining the college, she worked as a consultant at Sonoma Technology, Inc., managing the ambient air quality measurements research group and managed the field operations of the California Regional PM Air Quality Study (CRPAQS). Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the City College of New York in the Department of Civil Engineering, developing methods to improve air quality management, including measurement method development, model development, and the application of both in local communities. She also serves as Chair of her department and in this capacity prioritizes strategic planning, consensus building, curricular innovation, extracurricular student development, and stakeholder engagement.

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Alison Conway City University of New York, City College

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Alison Conway is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the City College of New York. At CCNY, Dr. Conway teaches an introductory course in civil engineering, as well as courses is transportation planning, transportation systems engineering, urban freight and city logistics, and urban street design. Dr. Conway conducts research primarily in the areas of urban freight and city logistics, freight data, and multi-modal interactions in the urban environment. At CCNY, she is the campus program manager for two undergraduate research programs – the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the FHWA Eisenhower Fellowship Program.

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Naresh Devineni The City College of New York Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0311-8752

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Naresh Devineni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering in The City University of New York’s City College. He holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. He did his post-doctoral studies at Columbia University. He also worked as a Consultant for the World Bank for a brief period in 2009. He has diverse interests in hydro-climate modeling and extremes analysis, statistical methods, water sustainability and risk assessment and water systems analysis.

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Abstract

Nationally and internationally, engineering programs experience more attrition and longer times to graduate than other majors. A majority of the attrition and delays occur in the first few years of study, when students are taking foundational prerequisite courses such as mathematics and science and sophomore level engineering courses.

The goal of this research is to assess the academic challenges students face at the early college level that potentially lead to attrition and delays to graduation, to design two novel preparatory courses to bridge gaps in technical and professional knowledge, to refine these courses, and ultimately to numerically assess the efficacy of the courses towards reducing attrition and duration in the program. While the conceptual models developed in this work are applicable to studies in any engineering discipline, the study is conducted in the undergraduate Civil Engineering program at The City College of New York, a minority serving institution and a flagship campus of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation's largest urban public university.

This paper details the full study design and reports on the first two completed elements of the research. Academic challenges were determined by anonymous survey of all currently enrolled students. Questions pertained to their academic preparation before entering the program, their performance in the program, and their attitudes towards the importance of prerequisites, study habits, understanding of the curriculum, and participation in extracurricular activities. The findings suggest a need for two student-responsive preparatory courses. The first course bridges the professional knowledge gap and is to be taken during the first year of major coursework. Students will learn about the curriculum, the value of participation in valuable extracurricular activities, and potential career paths; will connect with practicing engineers; and will gain insights into the practice of engineering. The second course bridges the technical knowledge gap and is taken alongside mathematics and science prerequisite courses and during their first semester of major coursework. This course will teach students to think critically and to connect theory to application, and will help them to develop effective and efficient study habits. Both courses will seek to instill passion, drive and a strong sense of morale into students that persists throughout their time in the program. Recognizing that many courses in engineering curricula are traditionally-taught with the midterm-final model and lecture driven instruction, both of these courses will employ novel pedagogical approaches to help students make the transition to engineering. Examples include project-based learning, modular delivery of course topics, metacognition of learning, and the incorporation of technology.

Wittig, B. A. E., & Conway, A., & Devineni, N. (2021, November), Design of novel courses to bridge knowledge gaps in engineering and reduce attrition and graduation delays Paper presented at 2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtually Hosted by the section. https://peer.asee.org/38428

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