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Maintaining Quality And Student Enthusiasm In A Freshman Engineering Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.697.1 - 6.697.6

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James Hedrick

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

Session 2793

Maintaining Quality and Student Enthusiasm in a Freshman Engineering Course

James Hedrick Union College


Freshmen frequently enter an engineering program with no clear idea of what engineering is about. Thus, most colleges require freshmen to take an introductory course in which students study aspects of all of the engineering disciplines. Union College is no exception, and over the past five years we have been working to develop an introduction to engineering and computer science as part of the freshman year. This introductory course presents information about Computer Science and Electrical, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering, in enough depth and with sufficient enthusiasm to help students choose an engineering major. In the past we have had faculty from each department teach a “module” featuring concepts from his/her particular engineering discipline. Students have complained that this format lacks cohesion and that they didn’t have a chance to get to know any of the instructors. We have addressed this student concern by selecting a unifying theme, and having a single faculty member teach all of the components of the course.

Union admits about 125 freshman-engineering students each fall and that requires five faculty members to teach five section of the class. The problem we had to solve is how to ensure consistent quality for all of the course components in all of the course sections. For example, we need to ensure that an electrical engineering faculty member presents civil engineering concepts with the same level of competence and as much enthusiasm as a civil engineering faculty member would. The key elements we used in solving this problem at Union College are:

ΠDeveloping our lectures and then presenting them to the entire freshman-engineering faculty

Œ so that all faculty could feel comfortable presenting all of the course material. Selecting a unifying theme (“smart cars” this year) to provide connections among all the

Πengineering and computer science disciplines. Encouraging students to contact the faculty team member from the appropriate department

Œ for more in depth answers. Working as a team to develop an attitude that the success of the course depends on its being well received by all course sections (no “star” faculty).

By working together to implement the course we serve as role models for our students. It is clear that cooperative team teaching contributes to the development of the same skills among our students. This paper describes the cooperative and team teaching we used in our freshman- engineering course this past fall

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Hedrick, J. (2001, June), Maintaining Quality And Student Enthusiasm In A Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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