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Itasca CC Engineering Block Scheduling Model

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Persistence and Retention II: Curricular Issues

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.983.1 - 22.983.9



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Paper Authors


Bart M. Johnson Itasca Community College

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Bart Johnson is an instructor of engineering and program coordinator at Itasca Community College in northern Minnesota. For the past seven years he has taught physics, statics, dynamics, and solid modeling. Prior to Itasca, he was a design engineer in John Deere's Construction and Forestry Division.

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Ronald R. Ulseth Itasca Community College

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Ulseth is an instructor of engineering at Iron Range Engineering and Itasca Community College, both in northern Minnesota. He is the co-developer of both programs. For the past 20 years, he has taught physics, statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics. He has successfully implemented engineering learning communities in first year programs. Recently, Ulseth began a new 100% project-based, industry-sponsored, engineering curriculum.

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Glen D. Hodgson Itasca Community College

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For the past 11 years, Hodgson has been an instructor of engineering at Itasca Community College where he has taught physics, engineering graphics, statics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, and fluid mechanics. Prior to teaching at ICC, he practiced civil engineering for 25 years in several midwestern states.

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Ed Damiani Itasca Community College

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B.S. CIvil Engineering Iowa State University, 1989,
Naval Nuclear Power, 1989-95,
Master of Arts Teaching, UW, River Falls, 2003,
High School Physics Teacher, Grand Rapids, MN , 1997-03,
Engineering Instructor, Itasca Community College, 2003 - Present

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Glen Duane Hodgson Itasca Community College

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Itasca CC Engineering Learning ModelThe engineering program at Itasca Community College in northern Minnesota has developed alearning model that has been very successful in preparing students in their first two years ofengineering education to succeed in completing their engineering degree. Students who havestarted their engineering education at Itasca in the current learning model average 8.7 semestersto completion of their bachelor’s degree in engineering with a graduation rate of 54%.The Itasca engineering program is an open admissions program with approximately 1/3 of thestudent body ready to start their math sequence with calculus 1, 1/3 with pre-calculus, and 1/3 ata math course below pre-calculus. Students who complete ICC’s engineering program thentransfer to 4-year institutions across the nation to complete their STEM degree. A majority ofthe students transfer to the regional institutions with engineering programs with which Itasca hasstrong partnerships and articulation agreements. The program has grown from 10 students in1993 to 150 students in 2010.Some of the key characteristics of the Itasca CC Engineering Learning Model are:* Block Scheduling - In 2002 Itasca Community College's Engineering program changed from atraditional 16 week semester to a "block scheduling" format with classes taught "one-at-a-time"in a 4-week class format. Then in the spring of 2005, the program changed again to a "two-at-a-time" in 8-week class format. This alternative course scheduling method is successful inproviding students the ability to navigate through the pre-calculus and calculus sequences atdifferent paces than in a traditional schedule yet have the ability to complete their engineeringdegree in four years.* Program Assessment – Itasca engineering has developed an annual program assessment tool toprovide feedback on student learning that utilizes an annual “FE” type comprehensive exam toassess the student learning in program courses and a student portfolio to demonstrate theirattainment of the programs “ABET-based” learning outcomes at the end of their second year.* Learning Community – Itasca has developed a very strong learning community where studentsand faculty develop strong working relationships that enhance the student learning in the classroom and improve student retention rates.The authors will present a comparison of Itasca engineering student success and time tograduation data to other institutions across the U.S. and a detailed description of the Itasca CCengineering learning model and its key characteristics.The wider application of the Itasca Engineering model is a learning community model that istransferrable to other institutions and can serve to increase the number of students in the U.S.who are completing an engineering degree. The model can be fully adopted or could be used forselect courses, such as math, and still function within a traditional 16 week class format.Keywords Section: Learning Community, Program Level Assessment Methods, BlockScheduling, Alternative Course Scheduling

Johnson, B. M., & Ulseth, R. R., & Hodgson, G. D., & Damiani, E., & Hodgson, G. D. (2011, June), Itasca CC Engineering Block Scheduling Model Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18219

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