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Opening the Engineering Gateway: Can Differentiated Instruction Help Prepare Our Underserved Students?

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

FPD IV: Improving Student Success: Mentoring, Intervening, and Supplementing

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

22.1124.1 - 22.1124.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/18706

Download Count

27

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Paper Authors

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Craig J. Scott Morgan State University

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Dr. Craig Scott, Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Morgan State University, has extensive experience in the development of advanced engineering visualization tools and courseware. Additionally, he has been conducting empirical studies on effective learning technologies, as well as remedial math preparation for engineering students. He teaches courses in electromagnetics, solid state theory, characterization of semiconductor materials, computer vision and computational electrical engineering.

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Yacob Astatke Morgan State University

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Dr. Yacob Astatke completed both his Doctor of Engineering and B.S.E.E. degrees from Morgan State University (MSU) and his M.S.E.E. from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a full time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department at MSU since August 1994 and currently serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. He teaches courses in both analog and digital electronic circuit design and instrumentation. Dr. Astatke has more than 15 years experience in the development and delivery of synchronous and asynchronous web-based course supplements for electrical engineering courses.

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Jumoke 'Kemi Ladeji-Osias Morgan State University

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Dr. Jumoke Ladeji-Osias is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Morgan State University. Kemi has experience in developing algorithms for synthetic vision systems. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in digital design. She has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Carl White Morgan State University

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In 1987, Dr. Carl White joined Morgan State University's School of Engineering in Baltimore, Maryland, as an assistant professor. He is currently the Associate Dean for Research & Development and Graduate/Professional Programs, as well as a full professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Dr. White has over ten years of experience in the management of funded research, both technical and educational. Dr. White’s most recent award was from NASA’s University Research Center program to establish the Center of Excellence in Systems Engineering for Space Exploration Technologies. As the Associate Dean for Morgan State University’s School of Engineering, Dr. White’s primary tasks are to provide support for the research endeavors conducted by faculty and associate researchers within the School of Engineering, to oversee the quality of the graduate program offerings, and to manage recruitment and retention programs in order to establish and sustain a pipeline of quality engineering graduate students and research professionals.

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Myra W. Curtis Morgan State University

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Myra W. Curtis is the Retention Support Specialist for the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering at Morgan State University. Ms. Curtis received her B.S. degree in Mathematics from Morgan State College in 1970 and a Master of Engineering degree in Industrial Engineering from Morgan State University, May 2010. Ms. Curtis spent twenty years in industry in designing, programming, and testing software systems on various platforms for the Department of Defense (DOD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). She has taught mathematics and computer science in the public and private sector. As the Retention Support Specialist, Ms. Curtis provides support to the University and School of Engineering retention strategies. She also works closely with the School of Engineering student leaders in developing and coordinating outreach initiatives for pre-college students.

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Abstract

Opening the Engineering Gateway: Can Differentiated Instruction Help Prepare Our Non-Traditional Students? There are many students who are being prevented from contributing to our national needfor innovation. It seems that while most agree that more is needed to be done at the K-12 level, notenough is being done at the postsecondary level to improve the readiness of nontraditionalstudents. Research at our institution from 1994 through 2010 on freshmen engineering cohortsindicate that the initial math course placement correlates highly with the likelihood of beingretained in engineering. Only nine (9%) of the students in the graduating classes that started inbasic arithmetic required an average of 7.38 years to graduate. It seems wasteful to turn thesebright potential candidates away especially in light of a shortfall of adequate numbers to supply theengineering pipeline to remain globally competitive. With focused intervention strategies, many ofthese students can enjoy productive academic and professional experiences. One of the strategiesbeing pursued at our institution involves creating highly interactive lower divisionMath/Engineering course sequences where the faculty work synergistically between thedisciplines of mathematics, education, psychology language arts and engineering to insure that theindividualized needs of every student are met. Advances in learning on how to integrate anddevelop these curriculum enhancements, incorporating differentiated instruction and theDimensions of Learning pedagogy into the higher education learning engineering environmentappears to be highly successful. The Dimensions of Learning instructional framework 1,2 promotesteaching and learning through an array of lower to higher level thinking skills. The sequence of pre-freshman/first year math courses was redesigned to allow students toget to Calculus I in a shorter amount of time. First, the Foundations of Mathematics (FOM) onlinecourse is a preventative measure to ensure a significant portion of incoming freshmen place abovethe basic arithmetic level. The web-based online math program has had a total of 187 participantsduring the past six summers and the results indicate that only 24% of all students who completedthe online course placed in basic arithmetic, versus 43% of students who did not participate in anysummer mathematics review. These results are very encouraging. The FOM online math studentshad a successful placement rate that was more than twice as high as the students who did notparticipate in any summer enrichment program. Secondly, the two part pre-calculus sequencewas replaced with a two part engineering sequence that features engineering performance tasks inaddition to rigorously aligned pre-calculus content. The first part (ENGR101) is strategicallytaught with differentiated instruction using learning styles and readiness to give the student anopportunity to test directly into Calculus at the end of the first semester. For students that needextra time, the second part of this sequence (ENGR102) allows for that. A pilot course usingthese teaching strategies, offered during the Fall of 2009, resulted in 58% (N=31) of the studentstesting directly into Calculus by the end of the first semester. Furthermore, the overall pass rate forboth pre-calculus sequences was 84% (N=31). When inspecting the grade distribution, the impactof the FOM online summer preparation is significant in the differentiated pre-calculus section andis also significant in the traditionally taught (MATH113) pre-calculus sections. (see Fig 2.) 50.00% 40.00% Percentage 30.00% 20.00% 10.00% 0.00% Comp. Pre Basic Calculus 1 Pre-Cal Cal Math FOM All 11.23% 25.67% 39.04% 24.06% NO FOM ALL 6.78% 7.95% 42.05% 43.22% Math Course PlacementFigure 1. Comparison of FOM online math placement results during the summers of 2003-2009 70.00% 60.00% 50.00% Percentage 40.00% 30.00% 20.00% 10.00% 0.00% A B C D F ENGR101 fom 36.36% 18.18% 27.27% 18.18% 0.00% ENGR101 No fom 16.67% 25.00% 58.33% 0.00% 0.00% MATH113 FOM 16.67% 33.33% 50.00% 0.00% 16.67% MATH113 No FOM 21.95% 17.07% 12.20% 12.20% 36.59%Figure 2. Differentiated instruction engineering course (ENGR101) grade distribution after thefirst semester and the traditional pre-calculus math course (MATH113) grade distribution1 R.J. Marzano, D.J Pickering, D.E. Arredondo, G.J. Blackburn, R.S. Brandt, C.A. Moffett, , D.E. Paynter , Pollack,J.E., & Whisler, (1997). J.S. Dimensions of learning: Trainers manual (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association forSupervision and Curriculum Development.2 Pamela Leigh-Mack, Solomon Alao, Bert Davies, Erastus Njage, Yacob Astake and Craig Scott, “ImprovingRetention by Redesigning Freshmen Mathematics with the Dimensions of Learning Pedagogy, Assessment andTechnology Framework,” 2005 ASEE Annual Conference, Portland Oregon, June 12-15, 2005.

Scott, C. J., & Astatke, Y., & Ladeji-Osias, J. K., & White, C., & Curtis, M. W. (2011, June), Opening the Engineering Gateway: Can Differentiated Instruction Help Prepare Our Underserved Students? Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18706

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