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First-year Engineering Courses' Effect on Retention and Workplace Performance

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 10: Paying Attention to Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.777.1 - 26.777.13



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Paper Authors


Gregory Warren Bucks University of Cincinnati

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Gregory Bucks joined the Department of Engineering Education in 2012. He received his BSEE from the Pennsylvania State University in 2004, his MSECE from Purdue University in 2006, and his PhD in Engineering Education in 2010, also from Purdue University. After completing his PhD, he taught for two years at Ohio Northern University in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science department, before making the transition to the University of Cincinnati. He has taught a variety of classes ranging introductory programming and first-year engineering design courses to introductory and advanced courses in electronic circuits. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, and ACM.

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Kathleen A. Ossman University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Kathleen A. Ossman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati. She teaches primarily freshmen with a focus on programming and problem solving. Dr. Ossman is interested in active learning, flipped classrooms, and other strategies that help students become self-directed learners.

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Jeff Kastner University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Jeff Kastner is an Assistant Professor Educator in the Department of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati. His primary responsibility is to teach freshmen engineering classes which focus on hands-on experiments, basic computer programing, problem solving, and communication skills.

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F James Boerio University of Cincinnati

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First-Year Engineering Courses Effect on Retention and Workplace PerformanceDue to a drop in the number of students enrolling and persisting in engineering programs, thereis currently a lack of qualified engineering graduates, which jeopardizes both the health of theU.S. economy and the security of the nation. This issue has led to the development andimplementation of a variety of pre-engineering and first-year engineering experiences designedto recruit more students to engineering and to retain them once they have chosen to pursue adegree in engineering. At a large university in the mid-west, three common first yearengineering courses were introduced during the 2012-2013 school year to provide students withhands-on experiences in engineering and a link between engineering and the requiredmathematics and science courses.The first course, Engineering Foundations, introduces students to the types of activities engineersperform and provides hands-on experience. The class material is delivered through a set of 6experiments that focus on content from several of the main engineering degree programsavailable at the university. The course also emphasizes technical writing, oral presentation skills,and engineering ethics. The other two courses, Engineering Models I and II, form a two-semester sequence, which introduce students to the computational software package,MATLAB®, and show how it can be used as a tool for solving engineering problems. Coursematerials are designed to show the importance of computing in engineering and to bring incalculus, chemistry, and physics concepts within an engineering context. All three coursesinclude significant teamwork opportunities, through lab assignments and group projects.This paper builds on previously presented work, focusing on the impact of these courses onstudent performance and retention within engineering. A description of the first-year courseswill be provided as well as the lessons learned and changes made over the first 3 years ofofferings. Data from course surveys will be discussed showing student perceptions of thecourses and of the curricular modifications.The main focus of this paper will be on retention data and on student performance data while oncooperative education (co-op). Retention data from the first offering of these courses waspresented previously. Retention data from the second offering of these courses will be added tothe previous data to better show the effect of these courses on student persistence withinengineering after the first year as well as retention from the second to third years. Studentperformance data will be gathered from student and employer evaluations completed at the endof co-op rotations. All students are required to participate in the co-op program beginning theirsophomore year. Results from the first cohort of students to participate in both these courses andcompleted their first co-op rotation will be analyzed to understand the effects of the first-yearcourses on student preparation and performance, particularly related to professional skills andproblem solving abilities.

Bucks, G. W., & Ossman, K. A., & Kastner, J., & Boerio, F. J. (2015, June), First-year Engineering Courses' Effect on Retention and Workplace Performance Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24114

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