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Integrating Technology, English, and Communication Courses for First-Year Technology Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors

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Amelia Chesley Purdue University


Nathan Mentzer Purdue University - West Lafayette

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Nathan Mentzer is an assistant professor in the College of Technology with a joint appointment in the College of Education at Purdue University. Hired as a part of the strategic P12 STEM initiative, he prepares Engineering/Technology candidates for teacher licensure. Dr. Mentzer’s educational efforts in pedagogical content knowledge are guided by a research theme centered in student learning of engineering design thinking on the secondary level. Nathan was a former middle and high school technology educator in Montana prior to pursuing a doctoral degree. He was a National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (NCETE) Fellow at Utah State University while pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. After graduation he completed a one year appointment with the Center as a postdoctoral researcher.

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Andrew Jackson Purdue University - West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Andrew Jackson is currently pursuing a PhD in Technology through Purdue's Polytechnic Institute. His previous middle school teaching experience informs his role as a graduate teaching assistant for TECH 120, an introductory course in design thinking. He recently completed his Master of Science in Technology Leadership and Innovation from Purdue University with a thesis investigating middle school engineering self-efficacy beliefs. His research interests are engineering self-efficacy, creativity, and decision making.

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Dawn Laux

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Dawn Laux is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT) at Purdue University. She has been with the University since 2007 and is responsible for teaching database fundamentals courses and introductory technology courses. Laux has 10 years of industrial experience in the information technology field, and her research area of interest includes technology readiness, the social impacts of technology, and increasing interest in the field of computing.

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Max Renner Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Purdue University

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Undergraduate student experience during the first year has been linked to perceived success throughout college. Subsequently, different factors influencing success in the first-year experience have been studied, including the importance of self-efficacy and optimism, the role of social support, and the construction of student communities, to name a few (Chemers, Hu, & Garcia, 2001; Wilcox, Winn, & Fyvie‐Gauld, 2005; Tinto, & Goodsell, 1994). This project seeks to extend research regarding the first-year experience by focusing on course integration. The overall purpose of this research project involves documenting an integrated First-Year Experience among three introductory freshman courses—Introductory Composition, Fundamentals of Speech Communication, and Design Thinking and Technology. Specifically, our research seeks to explore what difference the integration makes for students and instructors, with a focus on if and how the formal integration of these courses will improve students’ learning, academic engagement, and sense of community. This First-Year Experience is the first large-scale integration of courses at a large, public research university; specifically, this curricular program development has been implemented for over 500 first-year students. In this new arrangement, there are 40 students in each introductory design course. Of these, 20 are enrolled together in an introductory Communication course, and 20 in an introductory English course. Large-scale integration on this level is an intervention in the traditional university model, which often times includes a heavy, discipline-based segmentation of coursework. This presentation will report on establishing the integrated academic experience including the motivation, history, timeline, challenges, research agenda and current status of the project programming. Potential improvements in students’ learning, academic engagement, and sense of community are planned to be evaluated at multiple levels ranging from student level, instructor level, and administrator level. Data collection has been concurrent through the semester and at this phase, the data for evaluation is at the level of instructors: focus group interviews and instructor journal reflections. The questions our research seeks to answer are (1) does this integration work? and (2) how does this integration work? For instructors at the classroom level, is this pedagogically sound and are instructors engaging with community building in the First-Year Experience? For directors at the level of the program, what are the recommendations for change in future semesters due to pressure points they experienced, and how should changes be implemented in the program?

Chesley, A., & Mentzer, N., & Jackson, A., & Laux, D., & Renner, M. (2016, June), Integrating Technology, English, and Communication Courses for First-Year Technology Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25414

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015