Asee peer logo

Modification and Assessment of a First-Year Engineering Course to Improve Students’ Calculus Readiness

Download Paper |


2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

Student Success & Development - Focus on Mathematics

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Division - Paper Submission

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Noah Salzman Boise State University

visit author page

Noah Salzman is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University, where he is a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and IDoTeach, a pre-service STEM teacher preparation program. His work focuses on the transition from pre-college to university engineering programs, how exposure to engineering prior to matriculation affects the experiences of engineering students, and engineering in the K-12 classroom. He has worked as a high school science, mathematics, and engineering and technology teacher, as well as several years of electrical and mechanical engineering design experience as a practicing engineer. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College, his Master's of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

visit author page


Gary LeRoy Hunt Boise State University

visit author page

Gary Hunt a Lecturer for the Engineering Department at Boise State University. Dr. Hunt received his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Idaho, his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University, and his B.S. in Engineering Science from Northern Arizona University. His educational research interests include freshmen STEM programs and the development of Scientific Reasoning in students.

visit author page

Download Paper |


In this paper, we describe the modification and evaluation of a first-year engineering program at a western public university. Primarily motivated by the desire to improve students’ readiness for and performance in subsequent calculus classes, we adopted a modified version of the Wright State integrated mathematics curriculum at our institution. The curriculum we describe and evaluate in this paper integrates the engineering mathematics focus of the Wright State curriculum with engineering design activities intended to create a course that is both engaging for students and effective at preparing the students for future mathematics and engineering coursework. Based on a positive experience with a pilot of the course modeled on the Wright State curriculum model, we transitioned to using this curriculum for all sections of our first-year engineering course to include a stronger emphasis on mathematics content and preparation and exposure to Matlab programming. Given the motivation for our modification and the focus of the new course is on improving students’ performance and retention in calculus, we evaluated the effectiveness of the new course by longitudinally tracking students’ success and persistence in subsequent engineering mathematics courses. The results of these analyses show that students’ participating in the new course are not performing significantly better than their peers from earlier years, and international students seem to be fairing worse under the new curriculum. Potential reasons include misalignment of the lecture and laboratory activities associated with the course and changes in the student population, especially international students, that are not captured in the model.

Salzman, N., & Hunt, G. L. (2017, August), Modification and Assessment of a First-Year Engineering Course to Improve Students’ Calculus Readiness Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

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: © 2017 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