June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.533.1 - 22.533.12
Effect of Math Competency on Success in Engineering Science CoursesA few decades ago, only students with a strong math and science background would seriouslyconsider pursuing a career in engineering. Today, with the exception of highly selective colleges– it is common among many engineering programs around the nation to admit students atvarying levels of math competency. It is common knowledge that students have to meet oracquire a certain level of math competency in order to survive the rigors of an engineeringprogram. Because they are mandated to accept a given percentage of resident students, manyengineering programs at state universities are facing the challenge of dealing with students atlower than ideal levels of math readiness.At our University, students typically begin in the general engineering (GE) program and thenmatriculate into one of seven engineering majors after successfully completing core courses withrequired core grade point average in math, physics, chemistry, and the engineering sciences.Many students begin in the pre-engineering program if they arrive at the University with aperceived low level of math competency reflected by poor performance in the math placementtest. Reasons for this poor performance may include not taking the placement test seriously, nothaving completed four years of math in high school or having completed four years and nevergaining sufficient confidence. Consequently, they end up spending several semesters takingremedial math courses before beginning the calculus sequence or worse, drop out.In an effort to understand and serve students better, the effect of math competency on theirsuccess in engineering science courses and possible retention in the program is being studied. Aspart of an ongoing process, more than 600 students enrolled in various GE courses have beensurveyed. The courses range from Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Graphics toStatics, Dynamics, Mechanics of Materials and Basic Thermo-sciences.The survey was conducted entirely on a self reporting basis – students reported their ownperception of their math competency level. They rated their math preparedness for all theintroductory engineering and engineering science courses. If they had rated themselves low, theywere asked about steps they had taken to address their deficiency. If they were having difficultyin a math class, they chose from a variety of possible reasons with the hope that they wouldreally examine where the difficulty was coming from and seek help to address the issues. Sincemany states require only two years of math for high school graduation, students were askedabout the highest level math class they had taken in high school and how long before theyentered college they had taken the last math course. They were also asked about their ACT mathscore, math placement score, their first math course in college, if they had to repeat any mathcourses in college and what were the biggest challenges in the first math course in college.Finally, students were asked about their confidence and performance/satisfaction level in thecourses in which they are currently enrolled.The results of this survey are expected to provide us with a better insight to the mathpreparedness of our high school recruits. Preliminary results indicate that there is a directcorrelation between perceived math preparation and confidence level in early engineeringcourses. The data from this survey will be used in our college to formulate an effectiveintervention strategy. In this paper, the details of the survey and the results are presented.Possible suggestions for future directions are also discussed.
Masoom, F., & Masoom, A. (2011, June), Effect of Math Competency on Success in Engineering Science Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17814
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