June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.690.1 - 11.690.19
How Do Students in a Project-Based First-Year Engineering Curriculum Perform in a Sophomore Engineering Mechanics Course?
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.
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 , 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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