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Intracourses: Synergies In Combining Two Courses To Make A New One

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Conference

2009 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

12

Page Numbers

14.794.1 - 14.794.12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/5228

Download Count

19

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Paper Authors

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Eugene Ressler United States Military Academy

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Dr. Eugene Ressler is an Army Colonel, Professor of Computer Science, and head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. His research interests include neural networks for signal processing and software engineering as well as engineering education.

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Michael Miller United States Military Academy

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Dr. Michael Miller is an Assistant Professor in the computer science program of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the United States Military Academy. In addition to engineering education, his research interests include simulation and software engineering.

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Christa Chewar United States Military Academy

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Dr. Christa Chewar is an Army Major and an Assistant Professor in the computer science program of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the United States Military Academy, currently serving as an engineer on a major software project in Virginia. Her research interests include human-computer interfaces in addition to engineering and computer science education.

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Jean Blair United States Military Academy

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Dr. Jean Blair is a Professor of Computer Science and director of the computer science program of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Her research interests include graph theory and algorithms in addition to education in computer science and engineering.

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

INTRACOURSES: SYNERGIES IN COMBINING TWO COURSES TO MAKE A NEW ONE

Abstract

We describe a new tool for curriculum design. By carefully choosing two traditional course subject areas that have a disciplinary thread in common, trimming both to their essential core topics using program outcomes as a guide, then combining the results, we create an “intracourse.” We give criteria for evaluating potential intracourse constituent pairs. We discuss alternative approaches to realizing the combination. Intracourses can be used to address several difficult curriculum design challenges. Rapid technological advances routinely create demands for new technical competencies within fixed engineering curriculum boundaries. Current trends toward increasing general education requirements reduce available time and other resources for specialized engineering courses. Intracourses allow for novel new curriculum design solutions in such constrained environments. Each intracourse also provides engineering students with direct experience in exploring the boundary between two traditional disciplines. Our methodology for formulating intracourses naturally provides measurement opportunities for assessment of program outcomes. Thus, a single intracourse can be designed to accomplish more than the sum of its parts. We give examples of intracourses formulated over the last several years along with successes and pitfalls encountered.

1. Introduction—Change In Engineering Programs

Relentless change characterizes undergraduate curricula in the engineering disciplines that are subject to rapid technology advances. Entirely new technologies appear regularly. Moore’s Law—the empirical observation that the number of transistors that fit in a given chip area roughly doubles every two years —leads to dramatic shifts in basic assumptions. What was impossible only a few years ago becomes routine and therefore newly accessible to undergraduates. What was routine becomes a commodity and therefore perhaps not worthy of study. We need look no farther than Global Positioning System technology for a current example.

The educational environment also exerts forces for change. Modern assessment and continuous improvement processes allow constituents of academic programs to state their needs and wants directly and explicitly.3,4,5,6 While immensely constructive, these inputs only add to the long list of tasks confronting curriculum designers. Students also have their say. They deserve high quality, high value educational experiences, a fact underscored by ever-increasing costs of university education. Yet, perceptions of “high quality” and “high value” are changing incessantly. What was recently a cutting-edge and relevant topic or exercise easily becomes old hat in a new context. Engineering and technology sector employment prospects shift as well, compelling the academic programs that serve them to follow suit. The contemporary need to make engineering appealing to young people, especially to women and minority students, only adds new change forces to this already complicated mixture.

Ressler, E., & Miller, M., & Chewar, C., & Blair, J. (2009, June), Intracourses: Synergies In Combining Two Courses To Make A New One Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5228

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