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GIFT Paper: Using Proactive Advising in a First-Year Introductory Engineering Course

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2020 First-Year Engineering Experience


East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 26, 2020

Start Date

July 26, 2020

End Date

July 28, 2020

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Paper Authors


Andrew Assadollahi Christian Brothers University

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Dr. Assadollahi is a native Memphian and a 2005 graduate of Christian Brothers High School. Dr. Assadollahi earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in structural engineering from Christian Brothers University in 2009. He also earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Christian Brothers University in 2009, concentrating in applied differential equations. He earned a M.S. in Civil Engineering from The University of Memphis in 2010 with a concentration in structural seismic engineering. Dr. Assadollahi completed his Ph.D. in Engineering from The University of Memphis with a concentration in geo-structures in 2013. He currently an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Christian Brothers University. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Tennessee.

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This GIFT paper presents information on advising students by motivating ownership of education. In recent years, the use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software packages have become widely implemented into educational programs from grade schools to doctoral programs. These software packages provide a convenient medium for students and faculty alike to check students’ academic progress (time to degree completion), course progress, and even personal well-being. However, much like other forms of technology, LMS and CRM software packages can also lead to students not actively managing their own academic and course progress. Instead, students may tend to passively wait to check their grades and other academic progress. After all, why should students keep track of their progress if software can do it for them? This mentality can have further negative effects when an aspect of academic progress is overlooked, which can lead to a student earning a grade that was “unexpected”. In more extreme cases, a students’ graduation may be delayed because the student “didn’t know” they had some additional credits they need to earn. Many events can occur leading to these unfortunate circumstances, and when a student relies solely on LMS and/or CRM software, aspects of academic well-being will inevitably become overlooked. Perhaps a course that is ordinarily offered every semester is suddenly not offered during a particular spring semester, thus delaying a student’s graduation plan. Perhaps there is a delay in posting the following semester schedule at a particular institution. The possibilities are endless. While it is impossible to foresee every scenario that can influence academic well-being, this research presents a proactive advising method for faculty members and advisors to take a more active approach to advising and to encourage students from their first year to also take an active approach in educational management, thus motivating ownership of their education. This research provides a proactive method which has been implemented, for direct interfacing with students in an organized, motivating manner, to promote students keeping track of their own progress in courses and towards degree completion. This method has been incorporated into an Introduction to Civil Engineering course which is typically taken by first-year college students majoring in civil engineering. This method can easily be implemented into any course but would be the most useful for first-year students in academic programs as they would have the most to gain over their time to degree completion by continuing this practice.

Assadollahi, A. (2020, July), GIFT Paper: Using Proactive Advising in a First-Year Introductory Engineering Course Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan.

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