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Integration of a First-Year Learning Community with a Vertically Integrated Design Program

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.782.1 - 24.782.13



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Paper Authors


William C. Oakes Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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William (Bill) Oakes is the Director of the EPICS Program and Professor at Purdue University. He is one of the founding faculty members in the School of Engineering Education with courtesy appointments in Mechanical, Environmental and Ecological Engineering as well as Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. He has received numerous awards for his efforts at Purdue including being elected as a fellow of the Teaching Academy and listed in the Book of Great Teachers. He was the first engineer to receive the U.S. Campus Compact Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning. He was a co-recipient of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education and the recipient of the ASEE Chester Carlson Award for Innovation in Engineering Education. He is a fellow of ASEE and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski, Ph.D., is Co-Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering and Ph.D. in engineering education, all from Purdue University. She has served as a lecturer in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Zoltowski’s academic and research interests include human-centered design learning and assessment, service-learning, ethical reasoning development and assessment, leadership, and assistive technology.

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Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monica Cardella is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and an Affiliate in the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. She plays a leadership role in Purdue's first-semester first-year engineering course which serves approximately 1,800 students each year. She is also the Director of the MEDLEE (Mathematics and Engineering Design Learning Environments and Experiences) Research Group. Her research focuses on the development of engineering thinking skills (primarily operationalized as design thinking and mathematical thinking) amongst students as young as 4-years-old, college students, as well as practicing professionals.

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William Travis Horton Purdue University

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Integration of a First-Year Learning Community with a Vertically-Integrated Design ProgramHow do we allow first-year students to experience the excitement of engineering? Often first-yearclasses incorporate design project and other activities to give students a feel for engineering and design.These experiences, however, are often limited by what we can expect of first-year students within theconstraint of a single course. A novel approach has been taken by a large university that integrates first-year students into a vertically integrated design program with sophomores, juniors and seniors. Thisprogram uses a service-learning context for design so the students are placed on teams addressingcompelling human and environmental needs for real community partners.The approach leverages the university’s learning community initiative to place students and to groupthem into cohorts where they take three classes in common. The classes include a single introduction toengineering course where all 120 students are together. In smaller groups, they take one of therequired English or Communication classes. The third class is Program X, where they are placed ontodesign teams and mixed with other students. The majority of the students live on a common residencehall floor.The experience has been positive but the program has gone through iterations during its evolution. Thispaper will provide a description of the program and associated courses, describe lessons learned, andthe iterations of the program. Assessment data will be presented that include course evaluations,surveys and results from a design task that was administered to captured their understanding of human-centered design. Mentoring from older students is an important dimension of the experience andreflections will be analyzed from one division as a case study. Conclusions from the experiences withthe program and implications for other institutions for the vertically integrated and service-learningapproaches within the context of first-year programs will be discussed.

Oakes, W. C., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Cardella, M. E., & Horton, W. T. (2014, June), Integration of a First-Year Learning Community with a Vertically Integrated Design Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20674

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