June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Educational Research and Methods
22.531.1 - 22.531.9
Effect of Freshman Chemistry on Student Performance in Sophomore Engineering CoursesThe role of first year chemistry courses in engineering programs varies somewhat acrossprograms and disciplines. Clearly most engineering majors will encounter chemistry topics of ageneral nature in some of their upper-level course work. The purpose of requiring chemistry inthe first year, however, goes well-beyond learning chemical concepts. As a quantitative science,chemistry requires the use of math, principally algebra, on a regular basis in solving variousproblems. Students should gain an appreciation of the importance of units in solving problemsand come to understand the difference between implicit and explicit properties and develop otherquantitative skills. Depending on how it is taught, it can provide students with a wide range ofopportunities to hone skills that will be required in their engineering courses. In discussions withstudents and even with many faculty, the role of chemistry is often viewed narrowly in terms ofthe chemistry topics alone. The purpose of this study is to explore how the number of chemistrycourses taken and the performance in freshman chemistry affects performance in earlyengineering courses.Engineering students at the University of __________ have different requirements for freshmanchemistry depending on their particular discipline. All engineering students are required to takeat least one freshman chemistry course. Students in chemical and civil engineering are requiredto take two, students in mechanical and system engineering have an option of biology orchemistry for the second course and students in electrical and computer engineering take onlyone freshman chemistry course. All engineering students take a sophomore engineering course,Introduction to Modeling of Engineering Systems, which includes topics drawn from electriccircuits, mass and energy balances and force balances. The course is designed to help studentsdevelop an organized approach to solving problems and uses a conservation and accountingapproach to provide a broad framework for the diverse topics. This course provides anopportunity to explore the question of how well-prepared students are for engineering coursework related to their freshman chemistry background.A "readiness quiz" was given during the first week of the sophomore engineering course.Questions on the test included the proper use of units and conversions, understanding thedifference between composition and quantity of material, and other basic concepts. The studywill compare student performance on this quiz to determine the effect of having one or twofreshman chemistry courses. Course grades and student achievement of specific courseoutcomes will also be compared over multiple years. Since the second chemistry course is anoption for some majors, the effect of the students selected major can be partially controlled in theanalysis. The methods used include standard statistical techniques, such as analysis of variance,correlation (eg., Pearson) and t-tests across groups. Some qualitative analysis techniques may beincluded to assess student perceptions and attitudes.
Collura, M. A., & Ciston, S., & Savage, N. O. (2011, June), Effect of Freshman Chemistry on Student Performance in Sophomore Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17812
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