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Evaluating The Seminar Model For First Year Engineering Education

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

FPD9 -- Teaching Methods & Technology

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.698.1 - 12.698.11



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Paper Authors


Margot Vigeant Bucknell University

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MARGOT A.S. VIGEANT is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. She has been on the Bucknell faculty since 1999, and has been working in ENGR 100 for five years. Next year, she will be course coordinator, wish her luck.

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Karen Marosi Bucknell University

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KAREN T. MAROSI is the Associate Dean in the College of Engineering with responsibility for academic policy and student concerns. She is in her seventh year in this position.

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Ronald Ziemian Bucknell University

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RONALD D. ZIEMIAN is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has been at Bucknell for 15 years. Ron has been involved with the course for over ten years and has coordinated the course for the past five years during which the switch to seminar format took place.

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

Evaluating the Seminar Model for First-Year Engineering Education

Margot A. S. Vigeant, Karen T. Marosi, and Ronald D. Ziemian

Bucknell University Department of Chemical Engineering; Associate Dean of Engineering; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Bucknell University requires all incoming engineering students to take the introductory course, ENGR 100: Exploring engineering. The course is typically taught by a team of eight faculty and has an enrollment of approximately 200. In the Fall semester of 2002, ENGR 100 was changed from a large-lecture-based course to a modular course based on a seminar format (Vigeant et al, ASEE conference proceedings, 2003). Students could select two of eight seminars focused on areas of interest to them, ranging from building and analyzing trebuchets to computer programming. These seminars were taken between two large lecture modules, the first introducing engineering as a profession and the final one introducing professional responsibility and ethics. This drastic change was undertaken for several reasons: a) to reduce functional class size from 200 to a more typical class size of less than 35; b) Provide students with a more in-depth learning experience; c) Promote faculty ownership of the course. Now, having graduated our first class who experienced this new first-year course format, we are wondering: was the change effective? In this paper, we assess each of the goals given for the original change in light of student survey data, student retention data, as well as faculty interviews. Results suggest that the change effectively improved student satisfaction with the course as well as promoting improvements in other areas.


Bucknell University is a primarily undergraduate university with a focus on undergraduate education. The College of Engineering consists of approximately 700 students, currently divided among six major fields (Biomedical, Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Computer Science, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering). ENGR 100: Exploring Engineering is an introductory course taken by all 170 incoming first-year engineering students and by 30 additional Arts and Sciences students in their first semester. The objectives of the course include: giving the students an overview of basic engineering practice, including ethical obligations; introducing the knowledge base, skills and problem types for all six majors; developing strategies for addressing open-ended problems and in design of systems to meet specific needs; developing team skills;

Proceedings of the 2007 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2007, American Society for Engineering Education

Vigeant, M., & Marosi, K., & Ziemian, R. (2007, June), Evaluating The Seminar Model For First Year Engineering Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2847

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