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Inclusive Learning Communities: The Experience Of The Nsf Foundation Coalition

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Technology, Communication, & Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.680.1 - 8.680.35



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Paper Authors

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Paulette Beatty

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Jackie Revuelto

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Dianne Kraft

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Carolyn Clark

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

Session 1739


M. Carolyn Clark, Jackie Revuelto, Dianne Kraft, and Paulette Beatty Texas A&M University

In 1993, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Education Coalitions program funded the fifth engineering education coalition nationally, the Foundation Coalition (FC). Within the broad mandate of the NSF program, this new coalition of higher education institutions was to explore, experiment with, and initiate a series of broad-based reforms within their undergraduate programs, to change the complexion of engineering curricula and associated learning environments. The Foundation Coalition was designed to permit diverse higher education institutions to work together from their strengths and to function as a supportive network, as they set about the task of reconceptualizing the undergraduate engineering experience of their students. In such a manner, these institutions collectively could serve as “change agents” for the larger engineering community. The vision was that over time, through their programmatic innovations, they would be able to attract and retain the very best of a “…demographically diverse student body; and to graduate a new generation of engineers who can more effectively function in the 21st century.” [1]

From its founding to the present, although the Foundation Coalition has experienced several changes in its institutional membership, there has been a real continuity and partnership among the members. Today there are six Foundation Coalition partners: the University of Alabama, Arizona State University, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Four thrusts define the Foundation Coalition curricular reform: integration of course work across disciplines; active and cooperative learning; the use of technology in the classroom; and on-going assessment and evaluation. Their primary focus is on the freshman and sophomore curricula. While the participating programs shared these four thrusts, each used them to develop curricula suited to their particular context.

After the design teams of each institution developed their new curricula, they tested the new program with a pilot group of students, ranging in size from about 50 to 200 students. These students took the core courses together for an entire academic year. Running a pilot allowed the designers to further refine the curricula. Over time they noticed that the cohort system itself seemed to be benefiting the students; they were acting as a type of learning community. As concerns rose about retention of women and minorities in the programs, the FC leadership became intentional in their development of these cohorts and linked them to the concept of the Inclusive Learning Community (ILC). Each institution has continued to cohort a number of their students for two or more courses each semester after the FC pilot was institutionalized, in an effort to create

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright ©2003 American Society for Engineering Education

Beatty, P., & Revuelto, J., & Kraft, D., & Clark, C. (2003, June), Inclusive Learning Communities: The Experience Of The Nsf Foundation Coalition Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11819

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