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How Do Students In A Project Based First Year Engineering Curriculum Perform In A Sophomore Engineering Mechanics Course?

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

FPD6 -- Early Intervention & Retention Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

19

Page Numbers

11.690.1 - 11.690.19

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/649

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

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Jeff Froyd is a Research Professor in the Center for Teaching Excellence and Director of Academic Development at Texas A&M University. He was Project Director for the Foundation Coalition, one of the NSF Engineering Education Coalitions and now serves as Project Director for “Changing Faculty through Learning Communities,” a project sponsored by the NSF Research on Gender in Science and Engineering Program.

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Xiafeng Li Texas A&M University

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Xiafeng Li is a PhD student of computer science at Texas A&M University. He got his B.S. from Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in mechanical engineering in 1997, and M.S. from Shanghai Jiaotong University in computer engineering in 2001. His research areas include computer network, bin packing, and statistical data analysis.

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Arun Srinivasa Texas A&M University

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Arun Srinivasa is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He earned a B. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology in 1986 and a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, 1991. His current areas of interest include plasticity of metals and polymers; thermomechanics of dissipative processes, dislocation dynamics, Cosserat continua, design and dynamics of compliant mechanisms.

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William Bassichis Texas A&M University

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William H. Bassichis is the Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence and holder of the Thamann Professorship in Physics. He was in charge of the physics component of the Foundation Coalition.

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Jacque Hodge Texas A&M University

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Jacqueline Hodge is the Project Manager for the Engineering Academic Programs Office at Texas A&M University. She earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. She worked in industry for 7 seven years and concurrently obtained a M.S. in Business Administration at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. She is currently pursuing a M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University.

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Donald Maxwell Texas A&M University

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Donald Maxwell is a professor of civil engineering, Look College of Engineering, Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1968. His interests include project based learning, organizational change, and engineering education.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

How Do Students in a Project-Based First-Year Engineering Curriculum Perform in a Sophomore Engineering Mechanics Course?

Abstract

Interest and implementation of project-based engineering courses have been growing during the past decade. However, evidence-based evaluations of the degree to which project-based courses have improved student retention and learning are still rare. Faculty members at Texas A&M University have developed a project-based first-year engineering curriculum that draws on the established knowledge base of integrated engineering curricula to construct a new learning experience for engineering majors. The first pilot of the curriculum was offered to approximately 200 students in the 2004-05 academic year. Students who continued in engineering are now taking a sophomore engineering mechanics course in classes with students who were in traditional first-year courses. Comparison of their performances in the second-year course provides an opportunity to examine whether and how participation in the STEPS first-year curriculum has improved their performance in a core sophomore engineering course.

Introduction

First-year engineering curricula have been identified as significant opportunities to improve four- year engineering curricula, and many institutions have addressed the opportunity in different ways. At Texas A&M University (TAMU), at least four challenges were identified with respect to first-year curricula in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. These challenges are not unique to TAMU and avenues for addressing these challenges might be applicable to other institutions.

Challenge 1. Although innovations introduced during TAMU’s participation in the Foundation Coalition improved first-year retention [1], retention of engineering students after one year still requires significant improvement [2–6]. The current project builds on the pedagogical infrastructure introduced by the Foundation Coalition: clustered courses, student teams, and active participation in the classroom. Innovations introduced in the STEPS program focus on content changes structured around projects.

Challenge 2. Engineering students require clearer understanding of the value and relevance of science and mathematics. Statements made by engineering students at University of California Berkeley are typical of statements by engineering students about mathematics and science courses.

“Well, mathematics is, basically…abstract…unless you apply it to something you don’t have a physical foundation… It’s more conceptual, you have to be able to manipulate symbols…You got to get over the fact that it may seem pointless, and just do it. That’s probably one of the hardest things in math, that there’s no reward, there’s no tangible physical thing that you have. You didn’t find out how

Froyd, J., & Li, X., & Srinivasa, A., & Bassichis, W., & Hodge, J., & Maxwell, D. (2006, June), How Do Students In A Project Based First Year Engineering Curriculum Perform In A Sophomore Engineering Mechanics Course? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/649

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