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Proposed Freshmen Experience Course

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Newly Developed Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1006.1 - 15.1006.8



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Dobrowski Purdue University-North Central

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Proposed Freshmen Experience Course


There are many college campus’s moving towards Freshmen Experience courses as part of a General Education. While at first glance this may appear appropriate “on paper”, a one size fits all approach does not seem logical for such varied plans of study. Each college places academic emphasis in different areas. This makes a “one size fits all” approach to a freshman experience course weak as the expectations that the faculty will have of their students will vary with the degree program. It makes more sense to group these types of courses within departments with parallel plans of study and common goals. It would therefore be logical that engineering and engineering technology colleges develop their own entry level freshmen courses to be administered by in house faculty, with faculty of other departments coming as needed.

Areas of concentration could include the importance and application of courses not directly in the department (physics, math), communication (written and oral), ethics (both professionally), and cheating.


Over the past two years, this campus has been embroiled in a debate on offering a General Education (commonly referred to as “Gen Ed”) component to the curriculum. The intent is to expose all the students to the same core classes in English, math, science, and liberal arts. Students will then have a “well rounded” education in the hopes of graduating well rounded citizens. The problem comes when the plan is executed. The General Education Committee on campus is trying a “one size fits all” approach that the College of Engineering and Technology has vehemently opposed. Because students in this discipline typically start at a higher level of Mathematics than most, say, Liberal Arts major’s, would make implementation difficult. Also, while such courses in philosophy and sociology are important, to require them without increasing the number of credit hours to receive a degree means that a decrease elsewhere has to occur, and if the university core classes are untouchable, the only area that this can occur is in the technical field (students’ major). It is probably safe to say that the employers of all of our future graduates probably do not currently feel that our students need more social science, but one can bet that they would like to see more math, English, and technical courses. It is the department’s point of view that all courses that are not taught within the department are themselves General Education courses, thereby making the General Education requirements a moot point. However, are the current courses yielding the desired results?

Twenty years of teaching experience has shown a perceived decline in the students’ math, communication, and, shall we say, ethical decision making capabilities. While the top students today would have been top students twenty, thirty, etc. years ago, it seems that the “average” student has seen a decline in their skills. Teaching a course in Materials Testing for twenty years has been a source of great pleasure and searing frustration. The course itself is wonderful in that it reinforces the theoretical background that the students have been taught in the prerequisite courses,

Dobrowski, T. (2010, June), Proposed Freshmen Experience Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16541

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