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Do It Differently To Get A Different Outcome: Integrating Content Across Disciplines To Solve An Age Old Problem

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Recruitment and Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.478.1 - 9.478.9



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Paper Authors

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Elaine Craft

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

Session 3249

Do It Differently to Get a Different Outcome: Integrating Content Across Disciplines to Solve an Age-old Problem Elaine L. Craft Florence-Darlington Technical College

Abstract Required courses in engineering technology (ET) programs other than ET courses prompt the student question, "why am I learning this?" Students often fail to make the necessary connections between disciplines that enable them to apply the knowledge appropriately in "real world" situations. How many students have taken a speech course, an English course, and a mathematics course only to find that they are unable to link their writing skills to speaking persuasively to analytical analysis and research to prepare an excellent proposal once employed?

In South Carolina a new approach to the first year of engineering technology education has been developed and implemented to help students make these important connections. This new approach is producing better results in terms of retention, graduation rates, and diversity. Implementation sites have increased graduation rates more than ten fold, students from underrepresented populations are as persistent and successful as traditional students in engineering technology, minority enrollment has increased, and employer satisfaction has reached a new high.

Using research on contextual learners, student retention, and the 21st Century workplace, a new curriculum has been designed that focuses on an integrated, problem-based approach. Two major instructional components are completed: Technology Gateway and the first-year engineering technology core, called the ET Core. Both curriculum components model the workplace through the use of industrial-type problems in the curriculum and student and faculty teams in the classroom. The general education requirements of physics, mathematics and communications are taught concurrently with technology in the context of solving workplace-related problems. The ET Core consists of eleven courses. The Technology Gateway serves as a pre-engineering technology curriculum for slightly under-prepared students. The Technology Gateway integrates the study of mathematics, communications, and technology (three courses) around industry-type problems, providing relevant, hands-on learning experiences, and addressing career exploration. Curriculum products and evaluation data may be found at

Introduction Students often fail to make the connections among the various courses within the engineering technology curriculum. Particular difficulty arises with the general education courses of physics, mathematics, and communications (English and speech). An engineering technology instructor

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Craft, E. (2004, June), Do It Differently To Get A Different Outcome: Integrating Content Across Disciplines To Solve An Age Old Problem Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13241

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