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Learning Outcomes of Introductory Engineering Courses: Student Perceptions

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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

FPD 4: Peers and Perceptions

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.854.1 - 24.854.15



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Paper Authors


Sudhir Kaul Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kaul is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Western Carolina University. His research interests include fracture diagnostics, structural dynamics and control, and motorcycle dynamics.

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Robert D. Adams Western Carolina University

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Dr. Adams is the interim head of the department of engineering and technology at Western Carolina University. He has nine years of industrial experience as an electrical engineer working in the area of analysis and testing of RF communications equipment and 19 years of teaching experience in engineering and technology undergraduate programs. His research interests include digital image processing, biomedical signal processing, and engineering education.

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Learning Outcomes of Introductory Engineering Courses: Student PerceptionsThis paper evaluates the learning outcomes of an introductory level engineering course andcompares the assessment data of these outcomes to student self-evaluation of the achievement ofoutcomes. The introductory course is designed to contribute toward the achievement of fourABET1 student outcomes. Assessment of outcomes is performed through direct measurements ofstudent performance in multiple assignments and three team projects with the use of specificperformance indicators that are established for each outcome. The data from the assessment iscompared with the student perceptions of the achievement of these outcomes. Hypothesis testingand correlation analysis are used to compare the two data sets. Student perceptions are quantifiedthrough data collected from surveys conducted in two sections of the course taught by differentinstructors during Fall 2013 with the use of a 1-5 Likert scale. The surveys are conducted twotimes during the semester, once after eight weeks of the semester are completed, and then at theend of the semester. The surveys are designed such that each outcome can be mapped to multiplequestions in order to avoid possible inconsistencies in student responses, and in order to buildsome redundancies in the survey instrument. Comparison of the two data sets is expected to yieldimportant information about the achievement of learning outcomes (called student outcomes in theABET1 literature) from a student’s perspective. The student surveys are also used to quantitativelyand subjectively evaluate the student response to the project-based learning (PBL) model that hasbeen integrated in this course, as well as student responses to other aspects of PBL such asteamwork, open-ended problem solving, etc. The analysis of the learning outcomes and studentself-evaluation is expected to be useful for the evaluation of the course content of a requiredintroductory course for engineering freshmen. Students are known to find the transition from highschool to a demanding major such as engineering very challenging. This study is expected toprovide some insight into the student opinion about this transition. Furthermore, the findings fromthe study are expected to improve the delivery of follow-up introductory courses that are importantfor student retention in engineering. The assessment of learning outcomes through multiplemeasures is expected to provide a means of understanding the usefulness of laboratory and projectcontent in meeting outcomes, and also allow a comparison of the findings with the data in theexisting literature2, 3.[1] ABET, Engineering Accreditation Commission, 2010, “Criteria for Accrediting EngineeringPrograms,” ABET Inc, Baltimore, MD.[2] Feisel, L. D., Rosa, A. J., 2005, “The Role of the Laboratory in Undergraduate EngineeringEducation,” Journal of Engineering Education, 94, pp. 121-130.[3] Valveny, E., Benavente, R., Lapedriza, A., Ferrer, M., Garcia-Barnes, J., Sanchez, G., 2012,“Adaptation of a computer programming course to the ESHE requirements: evaluations five yearslater,” European Journal of Engineering Education, 37, pp. 243-254.

Kaul, S., & Adams, R. D. (2014, June), Learning Outcomes of Introductory Engineering Courses: Student Perceptions Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20745

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