June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.870.1 - 13.870.8
Mathematics Skills Assessment And Training In Freshman Engineering Courses
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.
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.
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
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