July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
This Complete Evidence-Based Practice paper discusses the redesign and transition of a Math and Engineering bootcamp to an exclusively online format for compliance with safety protocols required during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main goal of the bootcamp was to increase the graduation rates in engineering (ENGR) and computer science (CS). The four- and six-year rates (~17.7% and ~64.5%), are below the University’s average graduation rates (~ 33.1% and 67.4%, respectively). We designed the bootcamp to improve graduation rates by a) improving students’ knowledge and confidence in required math topics, b) familiarizing students with CS and ENGR majors through problem-based learning activities that integrate skills from multiple disciplines. Calculus and other math courses serve as prerequisites to most of the ENGR and CS courses. Therefore, each time a student fails a math course, his/her graduation is delayed by at least one semester. In addition, some upper-division courses are offered only once a year, so delays in completing their prerequisites may even delay graduation a year or more. Some students are not privy to prior exposure to CS and ENGR and only learn about the discipline after taking multiple classes in the major. As a result, some students change majors after they have spent multiple years in their original major, which also delays graduation. The bootcamp recruited incoming freshman and transfer students with declared majors in CS and several ENGR majors. The bootcamp accepted students from all populations but prioritized underrepresented minorities and first generation students. We observed an increase in diversity compared to previous bootcamp, due to increasing participation of female students. The three-week bootcamp transitioned to entirely-virtual, comprised of practicing Pre-Calculus math problems with educational software (ALEKS) and developing solutions to engineering projects with synchronous video conferencing instruction via Zoom. Students received instruction and assistance (via Zoom) from faculty and student assistants throughout the bootcamp. Finally, students integrated four projects that focused on different disciplines, including programming a robot to detect and circumnavigate obstacles, designing and constructing a truss bridge, modeling the dynamics of a trebuchet, and programming the robot to implement a PID Controller. Four out of the seventeen students successfully completed the final challenge, which required designing and building a truss bridge capable of handling a certain load, programming the robot to find its way to find entrance and cross the bridge, and reaching the trebuchet to load the payload. By comparing responses in pre- and post-bootcamp surveys, students indicated an increased confidence and ability to solve problems in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-calculus and Calculus. Additionally, the students expressed an increase in realizing the importance of math in learning CS and ENGR concepts. The paper will discuss the quantitative and qualitative results of the surveys. The authors will assess the students’ performance in the ALEKS, discipline-based projects, as well as the student success in the math courses during the Fall 2020 online semester. Faculty reflections on the online bootcamp and the differences with the previous year will highlight opportunities for improving virtual bootcamp delivery for preparing future engineers.
Alavi, Z., & Buffardi, K., & Zhang, K., & Meehan, K., & Johnson, W. R. (2021, July), Redesigning a Summer Math and Engineering Bootcamp for Virtual Instruction During the COVID-19 Pandemic Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37646
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