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Development of a First-Year Engineering Course Classification Scheme

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

FPD 3: Research on First-Year Courses

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.414.1 - 23.414.9



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Paper Authors


Kenneth Reid Ohio Northern University

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Ken Reid is the Director of First-Year Engineering, Director of Engineering Education and an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Ohio Northern University. He was the seventh person in the U.S. to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. He is active in engineering within K-12, serving on the TSA Boards of Directors and over 10 years on the IEEE-USA Precollege Education Committee. He was named the Herbert F. Alter Chair of Engineering in 2010. His research interests include success in first-year engineering, introducing entrepreneurship into engineering, international service and engineering in K-12.

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Tyler J Hertenstein Ohio Northern University

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Tyler is a sophomore studying engineering education at Ohio Northern University, where he currently resides as president and co-founder of a student chapter of ASEE. Previously, Tyler has co-authored two papers for the 2012 ASEE North-Central conference. At ONU, tyler is also involved in the Dean's advisory team, Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Eta Sigma, the yearly STEM day, and Northern Engineers without Boundaries.

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Graham Talmadge Fennell Ohio Northern University


Elizabeth Marie Spingola Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education

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lizabeth is a Junior at Ohio Northern University. She is the Project Manager of an organization at school that is designing and fabricating a model Mars Rover for a local museum. She is, also, has leadership roles in Phi Sigma Rho, the engineering sorority as ONU. Other organizations she belongs to include: SWE, ASME, Flute Choir, JEC and more.

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David Reeping Ohio Northern University Orcid 16x16

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Development of a First-Year Course Classification SchemeA proliferation of first-year engineering programs exists nationwide. These are often designedfrom scratch and tend to be “personal courses” – designed by instructors to cover what they feelis important. Therefore, while they may be prerequisites to second-year courses, first-yearengineering programs are not necessarily integrated into the curriculum. Further, since they areoften designed with little consideration for existing models, overall outcomes and content varywidely. This leads to, first, the issue of course developers “reinventing the wheel” as successfulmodels are not adequately disseminated. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of definition offirst year models: a developer may know what they want in a course, but how do they find acourse with similar outcomes with nothing more than “first-year engineering” as a description?Second, with little focus on specification of models for these courses, many courses become agrab bag of unrelated topics. The course meant to introduce engineering to a student may insteaddissuade them from continuing as they try to understand what engineering is.This paper will present results of an NSF project to define models of first-year engineeringcourses with associated outcomes. For example, courses may be best classified as engineeringdesign, engineering analysis, professional skills or some other classification system based oncourse outcomes.Results will be presented from a multifaceted approach. An analysis of approximately 30 syllabifor First-Year or Introduction to Engineering courses have been examined to identify course /learning objectives and any data on assessment methods, and these objectives grouped toestablish an initial classification scheme. A concurrent effort uses an Imen-Delphi procedure todefine and categorize expected outcomes and assessment methods in first-year courses. Multiplerounds of survey data will be collected and analyzed to build a similar classification scheme.Finally, an informal workshop will take place at a national conference to build consensus amonginterested parties; results from this workshop will be used to inform the Delphi study as itprogresses from the initial round to one where the classification scheme is identified andfinalized.After establishing the classification schemes, a workshop will be held in which participantsidentify assessment methods and gaps in those methods in assessing each component of theseintroduction courses.Specific goals include (1) categorize and define a classification scheme for first-year courses,including expected outcomes and assessment methods and (2) identify the assessment gaps.This paper will present results of the study, including results of the analysis of syllabi, the initialresults from the first workshop and results from the initial pass of the Delphi study, indicating aninitial classification scheme and identification of assessment methods and potential assessmentgaps.

Reid, K., & Hertenstein, T. J., & Fennell, G. T., & Spingola, E. M., & Reeping, D. (2013, June), Development of a First-Year Engineering Course Classification Scheme Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19428

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