June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Minorities in Engineering
12.500.1 - 12.500.11
Development and Beta-Testing of a Distance-Learning Freshman Engineering Course Series
The projected shortage of engineers in the United States and the need to attract a more diverse engineering workforce remains a challenge for engineering programs across the nation. Recent court rulings prohibit our university from considering gender, race, or ethnicity in all activities of the university. However, one method for increasing diversity of the technical workforce is to focus on first-generation college students because underrepresented minority students make up a large percentage of first-generation college students.
Many such students attend local community colleges because their limited financial resources override their choice of academic major. These students are confronted with limited academic choices, especially in the engineering disciplines. Over the last four years, our university’s engineering program has developed several strategies for recruiting highly qualified students and increasing retention rates. Additionally, one of the authors has been awarded two competitive Texas Workforce Development Grants targeted at providing career-forming introductory engineering courses in a distance-learning, web-based format to regional community colleges and 3+2 partner institutions (i.e., 4-year universities without engineering programs).
The first course in our freshmen engineering series is a hands-on laboratory/lecture course that students in all engineering majors take. The course is designed to let students experience what it is that engineers do in each of the majors offered. PowerPoint lectures, based on the on-campus lectures were modified to add recordings of the spoken lectures and animated sample problems to lead the students through problems that ordinarily would be written on the board in the lecture hall. All lectures and assignments were posted on Blackboard. The greatest challenge in converting this course into a successful distance-learning web-based course was the development of portable laboratory modules that could be shipped to the community colleges and partner institutions while delivering a quality, hands-on laboratory experience similar to that experienced by the freshmen engineering students on our campus. To enhance this experience, these students are required to visit our campus for a 4 hour multi-lab session. The secondary intent of this on- campus requirement is to encourage the students to consider transferring to our university.
The first-semester course underwent beta-testing at a nearby four-year partner institution campus in Fall 2006, and the students responded positively and provided constructive feedback for improvement of this course in preparation for rolling it out to multiple regional campuses.
The second course in our freshmen engineering series is a math-skills course with a computer tools laboratory component. This course was also developed using animated PowerPoint presentations with recorded lectures. The lectures, homework, and computer assignments are posted for the students on Blackboard as well. CDs with PowerPoint and audio lectures are also provided to facilitate portability. This course has undergone beta-testing on our campus utilizing students with diverse schedules and abilities. Several lessons learned resulted in redefining the
Skurla, C., & Eisenbarth, S., & Campbell, R. (2007, June), Development And Beta Testing Of A Distance Learning Freshman Engineering Course Series Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1954
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