June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.977.1 - 13.977.16
Some Perspectives on First Year Engineering Education
In the engineering education pipeline, the first year of a student’s college experience sets the tone for the future and, indeed, whether a student decides to remain in the engineering program at all. Engineering programs around the country experience difficulty in assisting students with the transition from high school to college, and struggle with the delicate balance between supporting a student’s transitional needs and maintaining academic rigor in a demanding major. The first year confronts students with a curriculum that challenges their long held beliefs of “being good in math and science.” Their first introduction to engineering education throws them into the realm of learning through experience and discovery. This at times can be overwhelming and challenging, on the way to achieving the goal of providing them with enough information to help them understand the breadth of the engineering profession and to prepare them for their sophomore year in engineering. During the summers of 2006 and 2007, engineering educators gathered at the University of Notre Dame to engage in discussions on how best to achieve the goals of this complex first-year experience. This paper elaborates upon three specific discussion points that have emerged from these summer workshops, including: (1) the relationship between persistence in engineering and the first year experience; (2) how to prepare first-year students to “stay the course”; and (3) trends in first year engineering program design. Finally, this paper will discuss the attendance at and feedback received from the workshops so that other universities can consider this as an opportunity to host their own regional first-year engineering workshop.
Background & Introduction
Many of today’s engineering educators recognize the need to develop a first-year engineering curriculum that takes into consideration the diverse academic, social, cultural, and economic backgrounds of an incoming class of students. Generally speaking, many feel that today’s students are more academically prepared, but are less prepared to be individually responsible for the largely self-directed study required in college. Ultimately, these students experience a transition from high school to college that is different and potentially more difficult than in the past. Universities around the country have initiated a variety of programs to ease this transition. Not all programs that are successful at one university will be successful at another, but a discussion of various aspects used by successful programs can raise the level of consciousness or understanding of faculty and provide a basis for dialogue that can lead to the implementation of innovative programs for first-year engineering students. Such topics include developing effective advising techniques, creating learning communities, using technology in the classroom, and addressing the needs of students from diverse backgrounds.
For the past two years, a first-year engineering workshop entitled Dialogue on Engineering Education: the Role of the First Year has been held at the University of Notre Dame to engage engineering educators on these and other topics. It was conceived as a way for those involved in first-year programs to discuss current pedagogical approaches and to engage in an open dialogue on issues that pertain specifically to first year engineering education. The workshop offered formal presentation sessions, panel discussions, and breakout sessions.
Meyers, K., & Uhran, J., & Pieronek, C., & Budny, D., & Ventura, J., & Ralston, P., & Estell, J. K., & Slaboch, C., & Hart, B., & Ladewski, R. (2008, June), Perspectives On First Year Engineering Education Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3740
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