Asee peer logo

Ensuring Students Have The Prerequisite Skills For A First Course In Engineering

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.522.1 - 8.522.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Fred Weber

author page

John Prados

Download Paper |

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

Session 1520

Ensuring Students Have the Prerequisite Skills for a First Course in Engineering

Fred E. Weber, John W. Prados The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN 37996-2200

1. Introduction

A common problem in a first course in engineering is the variation in prerequisite skills of students. These skills might include manipulation of units, data analysis, interpolation, and curve fitting. If class time is dedicated to teaching these skills, students who already have them are not challenged while others may struggle to master them in the limited class time available. An attractive solution to this problem is to make students responsible for mastering these skills outside of class, employing self-paced, on-line resource materials and diagnostic tests to let students know when they have mastered the material.

This approach allows the instructor to immediately begin covering new topics without using class time to cover this prerequisite material. It is also possible to schedule diagnostic quizzes throughout the course so that prerequisite skills are available when needed.

2. Current Status

A series of web-based, self-paced learning modules were developed to teach students the manipulation of units, data analysis, interpolation, and curve fitting skills needed in an introductory course in chemical engineering. The web site was organized around the review sections of the textbook1 and included HTML pages, Word Documents, Excel Sheets, Streaming Quicktime movies, flash, and PDF files. The choice of format for a given situation depended on the format of existing material and the type of activity to be presented on the web.

As part of a larger project, a Windows notebook computer with Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and other software was lent to each student in the course. With this configuration, a wide variety of media could be seamlessly integrated into the web browser.

This concept was first used in the fall of 2002. Students were told they needed to understand the review material in the text but that it would not be covered during class. Students used the web site to study the material. An on-line diagnostic quiz covering all the prerequisite skills was available for the students to test themselves to determine when they understood the material. Students continued studying and retaking the quiz until they had mastered the material.

3. Results

The primary benefit of moving the prerequisite skills into a self-paced learning module is the time recovered for other activities. Instructors should avoid the temptation to use this time to add Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Weber, F., & Prados, J. (2003, June), Ensuring Students Have The Prerequisite Skills For A First Course In Engineering Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12329

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: © 2003 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