June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
First-year Programs Division Technical Session 16: That Important Decision - Which Engineering Major?
26.867.1 - 26.867.14
Hybrid Introduction to Engineering Model to Promote Informed Engineering-Major Selection Decisions Students who chose an engineering major because they identify with the engineering-relatedactivities of that field are more likely to be retained. The limited knowledge of engineering thatmost students posses when they choose an engineering major negatively effects theircommitment to their selected major (Lichtenstein et al., 2007). Introduction to engineeringcourses are one way to promote informed engineering major decisions among engineeringstudents (Argrow et al., 2012; Orr, Brawner, Ohland, & Layton, 2013). However, one of the most prominent models for first-year engineering is the directmatriculation model (Chen, Brawner, Ohland, & Orr, 2013), in which students must select amajor before enrolling in a single university-level course. While some high schools do haveengineering courses, many, especially those in poor rural areas, do not. In areas withoutengineering courses, students often rely on non-engineering professionals (e.g., high schoolcounselors) to make engineering-major decisions. Despite efforts to “change the conversation”,it is still commonplace for these non-engineering professionals to state that a student shouldmajor in engineering simply because the student excels in math and science. Thus, the directmatriculation model often involves uninformed decision making when students are choosing amajor. For retention purposes, it is important for colleges of engineering to support informeddecisions regarding engineering-major choice. In this paper we discuss our efforts to promote informed decision making within the contextof a direct matriculation model. We are exploring a hybrid model for first-year engineering thatpreserves our existing eight major-specific introduction to engineering course within our eightengineering departments and adds a general introduction to engineering course for undecidedstudents. In this paper, we discuss some of the challenges we faced while transitioning to the hybridmodel. For example, one challenge we faced when developing the general introduction toengineering course focused on addressing differences between existing major-specific courses.While preparing for our new intro course, in Fall 2013 we conducted an assessment of existingmajor-specific intro courses at our institution. We used Reid et al.’s (2013) first-yearengineering classification scheme to examine differences and similarities for course content inthe existing courses. After identifying substantial differences in content, instructional design,and credit hours across all eight major-specific courses, we acknowledged that developing ageneral introduction to engineering course that would satisfy all requirements for all departmentswas not feasible without significant curricula changes. Instead we focused on developing acourse that would satisfy requirements for a majority of departments and clearly informedstudents of the departments that would require their own major-specific intro course in additionto the general course. This and other challenges to our hybrid model are discussed. We also discuss course design details in the full paper. In Fall 2014, our general introductionto engineering course was piloted. The course was taught by six faculty and was comprised offour engineering modules (engineering mechanics, process engineering, product dissection, andtech writing) and panel sessions that introduce students to the various engineering degreeprograms. Through an analysis of students’ pre/post-course concept maps and course surveys, weevaluated students’ understanding of the differences between disciplines and the impact ofvarious components of the course on their engineering major selection decisions.Argrow, B.M., Louie, B., Knight, D.W., Canney, N.E., Brown, S., Banford, A.J., Gibson, C.L.,and Kenney, E.D. (2012). Introduction to engineering: Preparing first-year students for aninformed major choice. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference. SanAntonio, TX.Chen, X., Brawner, C. E., Ohland, M. W., & Orr, M. K. (2013). A taxonomy of engineeringmatriculation practices. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference,Atlanta GA.Lichtenstein, G., Loshbaugh, H., Claar, B., Bailey, T., and Sheppard, S.D. (2007). Should I stayor should I go? Engineering students’ persistence is based on little experience or data. AmericanSociety for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI.Orr, M.K., Brawner, C.E., Ohland, M.W., & Layton, R.A. (2013). The effect of a requiredintroduction to engineering course on retention and major selection. American Society forEngineering Education Annual Conference, Atlanta GA.Reid, K., Hertenstein, T.J., Fennell, G.T., Spingola, E.M., & Reeping, D. (2013). Developmentof a first-year engineering course classification scheme. American Society for EngineeringEducation Annual Conference, Atlanta GA.
Mohammadi-Aragh, M. J., & Warnock, J., & Barton, A., & Sullivan, R. W., & Elmore, B. B., & Moorhead, J. N. (2015, June), Hybrid Engineering Matriculation Model to Promote Informed Engineering-Major Selection Decisions Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24204
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