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Rethinking First Year Engineering At Boise State: Assessment And Improvement

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Freshman Curriculum Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.987.1 - 7.987.8



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Paper Authors

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John Gardner

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Harold Ackler

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Anthony Paris

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Amy Moll

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Session 2553

Rethinking First Year Engineering at Boise State: Assessment and Improvement

John F. Gardner, Harold D. Ackler, Anthony J. Paris and Amy J. Moll Boise State University Boise, Idaho 83725


Boise State University offers three undergraduate engineering programs, Mechanical, Civil, and Electrical & Computer engineering. The engineering program at Boise State is relatively new with its first BS degrees conferred in 1997. Like most engineering programs, we offer a 3-credit course to first year engineering students. When the programs were first conceived and implemented, there was widespread agreement and consensus on the educational objectives and method of implementation of this course. However, as our faculty and student body grew, and as responsibilities for the course moved from department to department and faculty member to faculty member, it became clear that a more integrated and formal approach was required to both define the goals and content of the course and to document the manner in which it is implemented. At this time, we also considered other issues such as resource utilization and methods for offering this course at a distance. A faculty survey was implemented and analyzed and it was found that a strong consensus existed regarding both the over-all goals and the content of the course. In Fall of 2001, the course was re-structured and three sections were offered. During the course, student assessment was implemented to investigate our success in achieving the course goals. Lessons learned from Fall 2001 were used to modify the approach for the Spring 2002 semester.

ENGR 120: Introduction to Engineering: Course History and Overview

Few elements of the undergraduate curriculum have been the subject of more discussion, research and disagreement than the first engineering course. The only consensus that exists is that there should be such a course. Engineering faculty proceed from that point in one of two ways. The historic approach might be described by the phrase: : “If Professor X is willing to do this job, than she/he should at least be allowed to decide how to do it.” In this case, the course takes on the priorities and biases of the individual given the (often unpopular) task of teaching the course.

An alternative would be to work towards a consensus among the faculty about what should be done in first year engineering, and an agreement that all who teach the course will carry out those wishes, regardless of their personal biases. This approach is made Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Gardner, J., & Ackler, H., & Paris, A., & Moll, A. (2002, June), Rethinking First Year Engineering At Boise State: Assessment And Improvement Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10076

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