Asee peer logo

Mathematics Skills Assessment And Training In Freshman Engineering Courses

Download Paper |

Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Bridging and Freshman Programs

Tagged Division

Mathematics

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

13.870.1 - 13.870.8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/3992

Download Count

23

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Phillip Mlsna Northern Arizona University

visit author page

Dr. Phillip Mlsna is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northern Arizona University. His research interests are primarily in image processing, image analysis, computer vision, and engineering education. He has extensive industry experience as a computer hardware design engineer.

visit author page

biography

Janet McShane Northern Arizona University

visit author page

Dr. Janet McShane is Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Northern Arizona University. Her research interests are primarily in group theory, commutative algebra and undergraduate education.

visit author page

biography

Jennifer Maynard Northern Arizona University

visit author page

Jennifer Maynard received a Master's degree in Mathematics from Northern Arizona University in December 2007.

visit author page

biography

Maya Lanzetta Northern Arizona University

visit author page

Maya Lanzetta received a Master's degree in Mathematics from Northern Arizona University in May 2007.

visit author page

biography

Chester Ismay Northern Arizona University

visit author page

Chester Ismay is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Statistics at Northern Arizona University.

visit author page

biography

Sarah Brown Northern Arizona University

visit author page

Sarah Brown is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Mathematics at Northern Arizona University.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Mathematics Skills Assessment And Training In Freshman Engineering Courses

Abstract

In recent years, the professors who have taught freshman engineering courses at Northern Arizona University have expressed some disappointment regarding the level of students’ abilities and their rates of academic success. A major cause, we believe, is the inadequately developed mathematical intuition and skills that students possess when they begin college. To address this issue, we have developed and deployed a pilot program called TIMES: Training Intuition in Math for Engineering Success. Once students are assessed to determine their skill levels in six chosen numeracy areas, guided practice and training is provided to each student who has exhibited difficulty. All students are required to reach a level of mastery as measured by a post- test instrument. The goals have been to increase retention and academic success for these engineering students and to measure the effectiveness of the TIMES approach. Three semesters have been completed and more than 850 students have participated. The majority of the students have shown weakness in one or more of the targeted skill areas. In this paper, we present both quantitative and qualitative results of the first three semesters of this ongoing project.

Introduction

Many students in our entry-level engineering courses at Northern Arizona University have difficulty adjusting to the expectations, fully understanding the material, and achieving good grades. Too many students either change their majors away from engineering or experience a frustrating period of time before establishing a successful academic path. We believe a major cause is often students’ inadequately developed mathematical intuition and skills set. Success in engineering studies requires students to have a good facility and comfort level with numerical concepts. To address this need, we have created and are pilot testing a structure that provides training in targeted mathematical skill areas that are applicable across several engineering disciplines.

Background

To succeed in an engineering major, it is very important that students have a positive experience in the courses that introduce them to their chosen engineering field. Professors who teach these introductory courses at our university frequently observe that many students are not nearly as well prepared as they should be when it comes to key mathematical skills and concepts. The common opinion among these professors is this lack of math preparation, a poor intuitive “feel for numbers”, is very often primarily responsible for students achieving poor grades, becoming frustrated or discouraged, and deciding to change majors or leave the university.

The inadequate numeracy skills manifest themselves in a variety of ways: • Inability to properly carry units through calculations • Heavy reliance on calculators and computers for even very simple computations • Blind trust in the correctness of answers that emerge from a calculator

Mlsna, P., & McShane, J., & Maynard, J., & Lanzetta, M., & Ismay, C., & Brown, S. (2008, June), Mathematics Skills Assessment And Training In Freshman Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3992

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015