Virtually Hosted by the section
November 12, 2021
November 12, 2021
November 13, 2021
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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