June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.776.1 - 11.776.11
Integrated Pre-Freshman Engineering and Precalculus Mathematics
Engineering curricula share a reliance on mathematics as the prerequisites for nearly all science and engineering courses. As such, it’s not surprising that student success in mathematics is highly correlated to retention of engineering students. As part of an effort to improve retention in engineering, a new course was offered to freshmen in the College of Engineering at Boise State University. This course, which incorporated many elements of our Introduction to Engineering course, was designed to be taken concurrently with the 5-credit Precalculus course which many of our students must pass before they can move on to Calculus I. In addition, the standard Introduction to Engineering course was modified to more directly support students concurrently enrolled in Calculus I. Preliminary results indicate that students who concurrently enroll in an engineering course along with the Precalculus or Calculus I achieve higher success rates in their math class.
There are a variety of factors influencing student retention and success in engineering. One of these factors is strongly linked to mathematics education in both high school and in the freshman year.1 In fact, success in the first semester mathematics class at Boise State University is the most effective predictor of freshman retention among Engineering majors. The odds of being retained increases by close to 50% for each letter grade increase in the first semester math class, according to an analysis by the university's Office of Institutional Assessment. Surprisingly, this correlation between performance in their first math class and retention overshadowed the relationship between student retention and the level of mathematics at which students began their studies. In other words, it mattered much more that students did well in their first math course, regardless of the level. Motivated by this situation and by the positive results of supporting math learning among freshman engineering students presented by Carpenter, et al.2 a freshman precalculus engineering course, ENGR 110, was taught in fall 2005 at Boise State University geared specifically toward increasing student success in the Precalculus math class. Although offered previously as an ENGR 197 course,3 this offering was substantially different in that the new course utilized a web-based tutorial program, ALEKS,4 engineering modules and advising that included instruction in time-management principles as methods to increase student retention and reduce student attrition. This paper reports on the revised course organization of ENGR 110, its impact on student success in Precalculus, and on student perceptions of the course. Also reported are the effects of modifying the freshman engineering course (Introduction to Engineering, ENGR 120) taken in conjunction with Calculus I by including ALEKS as a major component of the course activities in the first ten weeks.
Callahan, J., & Gardner, J., & Moll, A., & Pyke, P., & Schrader, C. (2006, June), Integrated Pre Freshman Engineering And Precalculus Mathematics Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--538
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