June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.967.1 - 14.967.8
Pre-Freshmen Students Gearing up with Early Bird
We are offering a freshmen course called “Early Bird” where students have the opportunity to take the mathematics courses of the first semester (Calculus I for Engineers and Linear Algebra for Engineers) before they are enrolled at our university. Participants accomplishing sufficiently many homework assignments are qualified to take the final written examinations even if they are (still) not enrolled. The grades of these examinations may be accepted if the students will be enrolled afterwards. In this 9 weeks course the regular calculus I and linear algebra lectures are taught in the same lecture/tutorials together. Though the workload in this course is very high for students, 99% are recommending this course to other prospective engineering students.
The intention of this course is to provide the first semester students with the mathematics that will be usually used in non-math classes before it can be taught in the math classes. As mathematical knowledge and skills are some of the most important tools for engineers the Early Bird course has proved as very effective to prepare engineering students for their engineering courses. Before winter term 2008/09 we successfully offered this course for the third time. This year we had no additional financial resources to offer very small classes. On the other hand, in the week between this course and the final examinations a summer camp has been organized where recitation lessons were voluntarily offered by teaching assistants.
In this article, we are comparing the final examination results of Early Bird students and regular students. We are presenting the results of the Early Bird courses of the last three years. The results will be compared with the data of regular students who took the same written exams.
1. Key Features of Early Bird
At the Berlin Institute of Technology we offer an intensive course in mathematics called “Early Bird” during summer holidays. Within this course the content of the regular courses “Calculus I for Engineers” and “Linear Algebra for Engineers” are taught together during nine weeks. Our target group is the students of engineering departments who have to attend these two courses in their first (or first and second) semester at university. They are allowed to attend Early Bird in advance in summer directly before their enrollment in autumn. If they successfully attend the course and pass the final exam, the earned credits can be applied to their engineering studies. We offered this course in the last three summers in 2006-2008 teaching about 300-400 students per course.
In the freshman courses in engineering or natural sciences we observe all too often that engineering students do not have sufficient mathematical skills to understand the subject of the classes. However, sound standing knowledge in mathematics is a basic tool for every engineer. There are at least two possible explanations for this phenomenon. It is possible that the students have poor knowledge of high school mathematics. Surely it is not the task of a university to
Jeschke, S., & Kato, A., & Pfeiffer, O., & Zorn, E. (2009, June), Prefreshman Students Gearing Up With Early Bird Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5469
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