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GIFTS: Reimagining the Early Calculus Experience

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Conference

2020 First-Year Engineering Experience

Location

East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 26, 2020

Start Date

July 26, 2020

End Date

July 28, 2020

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

2

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35770

Download Count

20

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Paper Authors

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Mary Katherine Watson The Citadel Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1718-5825

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Mary Katherine Watson is currently an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel. She holds BS and MS degrees in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology. She enjoys, and has invested significantly, in the development of her undergraduate students, serving as past faculty advisor for numerous student groups. Dr. Watson is passionate about improving access to engineering education and serves as the faculty director for a scholarship program to recruit and support high-performing, low-income civil engineering students. Dr. Watson is also interested in understanding and assessing students’ cognitive processes, especially related to sustainable design. Dr. Watson is the proud recipient of seven teaching awards and six best paper awards.

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Simon Thomas Ghanat P.E. The Citadel

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Dr. Simon Ghanat is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel (Charleston, S.C.). He received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Arizona State University. His research interests are in Engineering Education and Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering. He previously taught at Bucknell University and Arizona State University.

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Timothy Aaron Wood The Citadel Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3926-7314

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Timothy A Wood is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel. He acquired a Bachelor's in Engineering Physics Summa Cum Laude with Honors followed by Civil Engineering Master's and Doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University. His technical research focuses on the intersection of soil-structure interaction and structural/geotechnical data. He encourages students pushing them toward self-directed learning through reading, and inspiring enthusiasm for the fields of structural and geotechnical engineering. Dr. Wood aims to recover the benefits of classical-model, literature-based learning in civil engineering education.

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William J. Davis P.E. The Citadel Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3812-8654

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William J. Davis is Dept. Head & D. Graham Copeland Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of Construction Engineering at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. His academic experience includes: transportation infrastructure planning and design, infrastructure resilience, traffic operations, highway safety, and geographic information systems. His research interests include: constructing spatial databases for better management of transportation infrastructure, improving transportation design, operation, safety and construction, understanding long-term effects of urban development patterns, and advancing active living within the built environment for improved public health. He teaches courses in interchange design, transportation engineering, highway design. engineering management, geographic information systems, and land surveying. He has served in numerous leadership positions in ITE, ASCE and TRB.

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Tara Hornor The Citadel

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Dr. Tara Hornor currently serves as Associate Professor and Coordinator of Higher Education Leadership Programs in The Citadel’s Zucker Family School of Education. She previously served as Associate Provost for Planning, Assessment, and Evaluation and Dean of Enrollment Management at The Citadel from 2008-2019, providing leadership for the institution’s strategic planning, accreditation, assessment, institutional research, admissions, financial aid, and graduate college offices. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arizona and master’s degrees in counseling, instructional design, and human resource management.

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Kevin C Bower P.E. The Citadel

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Dr. Kevin Bower is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Associate Provost for Academic Operations at The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Bower’s teaching research interests are in improving active learning environments and the development of classroom pedagogy to improve moral development in engineering students.

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Abstract

Early calculus courses are often barriers for student persistence in engineering. Several factors contribute to the difficulty of calculus courses, including poor math preparedness and, perhaps more importantly, low math self-efficacy. We previously conducted a systematic review that summarized numerous ways in which institutions and instructors are innovating calculus experiences, including adding engineering applications and using active pedagogies. We have used the insights from this literature review, as well as our own institutional-level observations, to re-imagine the calculus experience for a pilot group of civil engineering students at The Citadel. Our goal is to turn early calculus courses into mastery experiences that build self-efficacy and encourage students to remain in engineering.

We have created an extended calculus sequence that allows students to complete their Calculus I and II requirements over three semesters, rather than two, in a small-cohort structure with personal, academic, and professional structures intentionally designed to help students build self-efficacy. During the summer before their freshmen year, the cohort participated in a residence-based experience to help them adapt to college life and complete essential math requirements before the rigors of the academic year. As part of this program, students completed Calculus I with an embedded precalculus review. To encourage success, students worked with a peer leader, academic coach, and supplemental instruction leader. In addition, students participated in a parallel engineering applications seminar to connect math topics with future coursework and professional practice. The course indeed served as a mastery experience for students, as they all received grades of “C” or higher. Furthermore, results from a follow-up focus group and previously-developed survey instrument support that students generally experienced gains in self-efficacy and a positive outlook heading in to their freshmen year. We wanted to sustain students’ math preparedness and success, while still providing them with flexibility to manage other areas of academic life during their freshmen year. Subsequently, we created a two-semester Calculus II course to allow students to continue to sharpen their math skills but at a more relaxed pace. Preliminary results suggest that students are performing well in their courses, as well as becoming involved in other campus activities and groups. We are interested in scaling up our extended sequence and believe that re-imagining the early calculus experience can provide GIFTS for other institutions as well.

Watson, M. K., & Ghanat, S. T., & Wood, T. A., & Davis, W. J., & Hornor, T., & Bower, K. C. (2020, July), GIFTS: Reimagining the Early Calculus Experience Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. https://peer.asee.org/35770

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