June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.777.1 - 26.777.13
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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