New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Electrical and Computer
As a small engineering program at a liberal arts institution, we historically experienced low retention rates for our engineering majors. Consequently, we redesigned our introduction to engineering course as an effort to improve retention rate. Firstly, we decided to move the course from the sophomore to the freshman year to help the incoming cohort form a sense of community early on. Then we switched to having full time faculty become the primary instructors in order to increase connections with students. Most significantly, we completely redesigned the content and structure of the course. It used to be a traditional lecture-based course with an emphasis on technical aspects of design and engineering. However, after the change it became an activity driven, student-centric class with focus on active learning to engage students. Students now work on several team-based projects during the semester, which allows various aspects of engineering - problem solving, design, engineering standards, and social considerations - to be grasped in the process. Throughout the semester, there are several design competitions that draw spectators from all disciplines. These competitions teach students something beyond the subjects while being fun at the same time. We intend to use the class as a way for engineering students to build their own community and establish their own identity. We noticed students working in groups in this class tend to stick together afterwards in study groups, which contributed to their success in other classes. In addition to team building, we view the engineering design course as a “career molding” experience by showing the exciting, hand-on side of engineering. We believe all of these aspects contribute to the improvement of student retention rates. In this paper, we will address the motivation for redesigning our engineering experience for first year students based on observations and student retention rates. Then we will include descriptions of the newly designed first year engineering course, with detailed information about our team-based projects. We will discuss both benefits and potential pitfalls of this restructuring. Finally, retention data and trends will be discussed with some conclusions.
Backens, J., & Riedl, A., & Gerousis, C., & Wang, D. (2016, June), Improving Student Retention Through a Redesigned First-Year Engineering Class Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25630
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