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Impact of Collaborative Problem-solving Workshops in Engineering Calculus Course on Applied Mathematical

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.798.1 - 22.798.19



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Paper Authors


Lisa Schneider Cornell University

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Lisa Schneider has been the Director of Engineering Learning Initiatives in Cornell University’s College of Engineering since 2002. Learning Initiatives’ programs enhance the educational environment of the College by facilitating opportunities for collaborative learning, undergraduate research, teaching skill development, peer instruction, and leadership development. Schneider received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Cornell in 1997. Before taking her current position, she taught Sociology as an assistant professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and then served as Senior Director of Research and Evaluation at PowerUP, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding technology access and providing youth development resources for underserved youth. Schneider’s current research interests include race, class, and gender inequality in educational access and retention, in particular, issues of access, climate, and the quality of student learning in undergraduate engineering education.

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Maria Terrell Cornell University

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Impact of Collaborative Problem-solving Workshops in Engineering Calculus Course on Applied Mathematical Problem-solving Skills and Self-efficacy PerceptionsThis project stems from a collaborative effort by engineering and mathematics faculty at aresearch university to enhance engineering students’ abilities to transfer and apply mathematicsto solve problems in engineering contexts. A recent curriculum innovation resulting from theseefforts involves the integration of collaborative, applied, problem-solving workshops into thefirst-semester engineering mathematics course. In the first year of the assessment project, theproject team developed two instruments - one to gauge students’ abilities in using mathematics inengineering contexts, the Mathematics Applications Inventory (MAI); and the other to gaugestudents' self-efficacy perceptions related to studying engineering and to learning and applyingmathematics, the Engineering and Mathematics Perceptions Survey (EMPS). In this second yearof the project we will use the instruments to detect effects of the workshop innovation. Theproject is funded by the National Science Foundation, Directorate of Education and HumanResources, Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program, Grant # DUE-0837757.The paper will report the results of the full administration of both instruments in Fall 2010 to allfirst-year engineering students at our institution (approximately 820). Slightly less than halfenroll in the first calculus course in the engineering mathematics sequence, which covers singlevariable calculus and includes the collaborative problem-solving workshop innovation. Theother first-year students have obtained advanced standing through prior coursework or credit onAdvanced Placement exams, and the majority of these enroll in the second course in thesequence, which covers multivariable calculus and does not include the workshop component.All students in each course will complete the MAI as a paper-and-pencil exam during class timeat the outset of the semester and again at the end of the semester. All students will also be askedto complete the online EMPS survey at both pre- and post-semester.The paper will include analyses of the resulting data, including associations between EMPSresponses and MAI performance, patterns in students’ responses to the problems on the MAI,common areas of difficulty related to the application of specific mathematical topics, andpatterns of responses and performance by other background and status variables such as gender,race, SAT scores, and level of mathematics preparation. Comparisons of responses pre- andpost-semester, as well as comparisons across courses, will help determine impacts of theworkshop innovation.We expect that students’ experiences in the workshops will improve their general abilities toapply the mathematics they have learned to engineering-related problems, and will have positiveeffects on their self-efficacy perceptions related to succeeding in the engineering curriculum.Our findings will help determine whether positive impacts on student skill and self-efficacy areindeed occurring in ways we are able to detect with the use of these instruments.

Schneider, L., & Terrell, M. (2011, June), Impact of Collaborative Problem-solving Workshops in Engineering Calculus Course on Applied Mathematical Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18079

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