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Exploring Impacts of Flexible, Balanced Engineering Program Curricula

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Flexible Engineering Curricula

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28330

Download Count

18

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Paper Authors

biography

Marissa H. Forbes University of Colorado, Boulder

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Marissa H. Forbes is a research associate in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead editor of the TeachEngineering digital library. She previously taught middle school science and engineering and wrote K-12 STEM curricula while an NSF GK-12 graduate engineering fellow at CU. With a master’s degree in civil engineering she went on to teach advanced placement and algebra-based physics for the Denver School of Science and Technology, where she also created and taught a year-long, design-based engineering course for seniors. Forbes earned her PhD in civil engineering, with an engineering education research focus.

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Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She has served as the ABET assessment coordinator for the CEAE Department since 2008. Professor Bielefeldt is the faculty director of the Sustainable By Design Residential Academic Program, a living-learning community where interdisciplinary students learn about and practice sustainability. Bielefeldt is also a licensed P.E. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacquelyn Sullivan has led the multi-university TeachEngineering digital library project, now serving over 3.3M unique users (mostly teachers) annually, since its inception. She is founding co-director of the design-focused Engineering Plus degree program and CU Teach Engineering initiative in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. With the intent of transforming engineering to broaden participation, Sullivan spearheaded design and launch of the Engineering GoldShirt Program at CU to provide a unique access pathway to engineering for high potential, next tier students not admitted through the standard admissions process; findings are very encouraging, and the program is being adapted at several other engineering colleges. Dr. Sullivan led the 2004 launch of ASEE's Pre-College Division, was conferred as an ASEE Fellow in 2011 and was awarded NAE’s 2008 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

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Dua Chaker University of Colorado, Boulder

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Dua Chaker is a Professional Research Associate and Project Engineer and Editor for the TeachEngineering Digital Library in the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder summa cum laude in 2013. She has been working for the TeachEngineering digital library for the past 5 years.

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Abstract

Having choices is linked to both human satisfaction and motivation. A quantitative exploration of curricular choice opportunities across dozens of undergraduate engineering programs yielded evidence of a low-choice culture in engineering education, with engineering students commonly afforded minimal curricular choice and few opportunities to pursue a broad, balanced education compared to their campus peers. Exceptional, highly regarded and accredited engineering programs, while few in number, demonstrated the feasibility of highly flexible, customizable, and balanced programs. Though hypothesized that the low-choice, highly technical engineering curricular model may be a barrier to participation in engineering education, correlations between curricular choice/balance and educational outcomes had not been explored. In this pilot study, curricula and program outcome data were delineated for 21 engineering, math, natural science, and physical science degree programs (nine ABET-accredited, 12 non-accredited) at the University of Colorado Boulder to probe correlations between the amount of course choice and technical—non-technical curricular balance provided by a given program and the program’s 1) median time to degree, 2) six-year graduation rate, 3) average GPA, and 4) percentage of bachelor’s degrees earned by women. Results were mixed as to the potential benefits of flexible, balanced engineering programs, and numerous confounding factors were present in the study. Cross-institutional research that mitigates confounding factors is needed to further explore correlations between engineering program curricular choice opportunities, balance and educational outcomes.

Forbes, M. H., & Bielefeldt, A. R., & Sullivan, J. F., & Chaker, D. (2017, June), Exploring Impacts of Flexible, Balanced Engineering Program Curricula Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28330

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