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Effect of Math Competency on Success in Engineering Science Courses

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

12

Page Numbers

22.533.1 - 22.533.12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/17814

Download Count

33

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Paper Authors

biography

Fahmida Masoom University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Fahmida Masoom is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Fahmida obtained her M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Wisconsin. She taught in Georgia before coming to University of Wisconsin, Platteville. Her research interests are in the areas of engineering graphics and engineering education.

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biography

Abulkhair Masoom University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Abulkhair Masoom is a Professor in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Abulkhair has a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Wisconsin. He taught in Georgia before coming to University of Wisconsin, Platteville. His research interests are in the areas of thermo-mechanical design and engineering education.

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Abstract

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

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015