June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Council of Sections
11.1073.1 - 11.1073.13
Redefining Engineering Mathematics Education at Wright State University
This paper summarizes progress to date on the WSU model for engineering mathematics education, an NSF funded curriculum reform initiative at Wright State University. The WSU model seeks to increase student retention, motivation and success in engineering through application-driven, just-in-time engineering math instruction. The WSU approach begins with the development of a novel freshman-level engineering mathematics course (EGR 101). Taught by engineering faculty, the course includes lecture, laboratory and recitation components. Using an application-oriented, hands-on approach, the course addresses only the salient math topics actually used in a variety of core engineering courses. These include the traditional physics, engineering mechanics, electric circuits and computer programming sequences. The EGR 101 course replaces traditional math prerequisite requirements for the above core courses, so that students can advance in the engineering curriculum without having completed a traditional freshman calculus sequence. This has enabled a significant restructuring of the engineering curriculum, including the placement of formerly sophomore-level engineering courses within the freshman year. The WSU model concludes with the development of a revised engineering mathematics sequence, to be taught by the math department later in the curriculum. The result has shifted the traditional emphasis on math prerequisite requirements to an emphasis on engineering motivation for math, with a just-in-time placement of the new math sequence. The current paper summarizes the motivation, goals and development to date of the WSU model, which is currently in its first year of implementation. The paper reflects modifications since the approach was first reported one year ago, and includes a preliminary assessment of student performance and perception during the first run of EGR 101.
The traditional approach to engineering mathematics education begins with one year of freshman calculus as a prerequisite to subsequent core engineering courses. However, only about 42% of incoming freshmen who wish to pursue an engineering or computer science degree at Wright State University (WSU) ever complete the required calculus sequence. The remaining 58% either switch majors or leave the University. This problem is not unique to WSU; indeed, the inability of incoming students to successfully advance through the traditional freshman calculus sequence plagues engineering programs across the country.
A 1998 U.S. Department of Education report1 has summarized the percent of college students who completed bachelor's degrees by age 30 in their intended fields, as indicated upon graduation from high school. In the combined fields of Engineering/Architecture, only 54% of men and 21.3% of women were ultimately successful. While more uniform among the sexes, the numbers in the combined fields of Computer Science/Mathematics are also discouraging, with success rates of only 38.5% for men and 32.7% for women. On the other hand, students wishing to pursue a bachelor's degree in business exhibited success rates of 71.8 % for men and 63.7% for women.
Klingbeil, N., & Mercer, R., & Rattan, K., & Raymer, M., & Reynolds, D. (2006, June), Redefining Engineering Mathematics Education At Wright State University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/935
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