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Preparing Engineering Students to Take a Calculus Course: An Engineering-Oriented Approach

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1174.1 - 22.1174.10



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Paper Authors


Kristi J. Shryock Texas A&M University

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Kristi J. Shryock is a Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received both a B.S. and M.S. in
Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M and received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M in May 2011. Her research work focuses on engineering education.

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Arun R. Srinivasa Texas A&M University, Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Prof Srinivasa obtained his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1986. He subsequently obtained a Ph.D. at UC, Berkeley and has been a faculty in the mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University. He is one of the curriculum coordinators for the freshman engineering program of the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University.

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Jefferey E. Froyd Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Jeffrey E. Froyd is the Director of Faculty Climate and Development at Texas A&M University. He served as Project Director for the Foundation Coalition, an NSF Engineering Education Coalition in which six institutions systematically renewed, assessed, and institutionalized their undergraduate engineering curricula, and extensively shared their results with the engineering education community. He co-created the Integrated, First-Year Curriculum in Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, which was recognized in 1997 with a Hesburgh Award Certificate of Excellence. He has authored or co-authored over 70 papers on engineering education in areas ranging from curricular change to faculty development. He is collaborating on NSF-supported projects for (i) renewal of the mechanics of materials course, (ii) improving preparation of students for Calculus I, (iii) systemic application of concept inventories. He is currently an ABET Program Evaluator and a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal on Engineering Education.

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Preparing Engineering Students to Take a Calculus Course: An Engineering-Oriented ApproachSeveral national reports have discussed the importance of increasing the quality and number ofengineering graduates in the United States. One segment of the population in which substantialimprovements are possible is students who enter college with a declared major or interest inengineering but who need to improve their mathematical preparation before it is likely they willsucceed in the first calculus course. This segment includes a disproportionately high number ofBlacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans, populations that are the focus of many efforts todiversify undergraduate engineering enrollment and the engineering workforce.Results from other initiatives suggest that an engineering emphasis in mathematical preparationcan improve performance and retention of engineering students. Most engineering curriculumslist Engineering Calculus I as the first mathematics course. Students not prepared academicallyto enter this course can often feel neglected because they may not learn any engineering conceptsfor another semester or two. Also, they are out of step with many of their peers, possiblyincluding friends with whom they came to college. Their course load their first semester includescourses, such as English and Chemistry, in addition to their pre-calculus course, and the word‘engineering’ is non-existent.Faculty members at a large public university and a local community college worked together tocreate an engineering approach to preparing students to take a calculus course. Their intent is tobetter prepare engineering students for their first engineering calculus and increase thepercentage of students being retained in engineering.The paper will describe: • Topics determined to be needed for engineering calculus instead of the course simply providing a complete review of trigonometry and algebra, • The instrument used to assess readiness of students for Calculus I, • Examples of model-eliciting activities incorporated into the classroom where students must propose a mathematical model describe a certain phenomenon, and • Results for students who have completed the course.

Shryock, K. J., & Srinivasa, A. R., & Froyd, J. E. (2011, June), Preparing Engineering Students to Take a Calculus Course: An Engineering-Oriented Approach Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18704

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