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Does it matter who teaches a core mathematics course to engineering undergraduates?

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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

Mathematics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.442.1 - 23.442.15



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Paper Authors


Ryan Boyd Cartwright General Electric

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Ryan Cartwright is a Quality Engineer with General Electric in Clearwater, FL. He holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management (2011) and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (2011) from the University of South Florida. He is currently performing work related to the implementation of Lean Six Sigma techniques, supplier quality management, and logistics optimization in a manufacturing environment.

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Autar Kaw University of South Florida

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Autar Kaw is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Jerome Krivanek Distinguished Teacher at the University of South Florida, USA. He holds a Ph.D. (1987) in engineering mechanics from Clemson University. His main scholarly interests are in engineering education research methods, open courseware development, bascule bridge design, body armor, and micromechanics of composite materials. With major funding from the NSF, he is the lead developer of award-winning online resources for an undergraduate course in numerical methods ( He is the recipient of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT), and the 2011 ASEE National Outstanding Teaching Award.

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Ali Yalcin University of South Florida

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Prof. Ali Yalcin received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Rutgers University, New Brunswick New Jersey in 1995, 1997 and 2000. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Department, and an Associate Faculty member of the Center for Urban Transportation Research. His research interests include systems modeling, analysis and control, production planning and control, information systems, data analysis and decision support in healthcare, and engineering education research. His work has been funded by federal organizations including National Science Foundation and Army office of Research and medical device manufacturing industry. He has taught courses in the areas of systems modeling and performance analysis, information systems design, production planning, facilities design, and systems simulation. He co-authored the 2006 Joint Publishers Book-of-the-Year textbook, Design of Industrial Information Systems, Elsevier.

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Does it matter who teaches a core mathematics course to engineeringundergraduates?While assessing the influence of web-based resources for a course in Numerical Methods at alarge university in Southeast USA, we observed that one of the pre-requisite courses, namelyOrdinary Differential Equations, is taken by engineering undergraduates either in the College ofEngineering or in the Department of Mathematics at the University of ___________________.Since there is always debate about which college does a better job of teaching core mathematicscourses to engineering students, we had data available to shed unbiased light on this matter.As part of the assessment in the Numerical Methods course, for the last three years, we havebeen giving a pre- and post-concept test to the students in the first and last week of the semester,respectively. Two of the 16 multiple-choice questions in the test are on the topic of ordinarydifferential equations.We also give a final examination made of 32 multiple-choice questions, out of which fourquestions are on numerical techniques of ordinary differential equations.Taking the data from these three performance instruments for a total of 150 students in threesemesters of Spring 2009, 2010 and 2011, for each student, we collected additional data for eachstudent. These data included pre-requisite mathematics GPA (average grade in Calculus I, II, andIII), gender, whether they took the Math ODE or Engineering ODE course, age, and transferstatus.A detailed statistical analysis showed no significant difference in the performance of the studentsin any of three instruments whether they took the Math ODE or the Engineering ODE course. Arepresentative illustrative plot in Figure 1 shows the pre-concept test performance of the twogroups.Figure 1. Fraction of correct and incorrect responses in the pre-concept test questions onordinary differential equations.The paper will discuss students’ performance in pre-concept test, post-concept test and the finalexamination while comparisons will be made amongst subgroups based on the following factors. a) Gender. b) Age (Students are separated into two subgroups as non-adult students whose age was less than or equal to 22 at the beginning of the course and as adult students whose ages were greater than 22). c) Transfer status (This indicates whether the student is a first time college student (FTIC), transferred from a community college (CC) with a completed Associates of Arts degree or other (OT) which includes students who transfer from other institutions without a completed degree). d) Academic performance (This is the average grade in the course prerequisites (Calculus I, II, III). The students are separated into three groups based on their grade point average in the prerequisite courses (PR-GPA) of 2-2.5, 2.5-3.5 and 3.5-4).

Cartwright, R. B., & Kaw, A., & Yalcin, A. (2013, June), Does it matter who teaches a core mathematics course to engineering undergraduates? Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19456

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