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Student Assessments Of Engineering First Year Seminars

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.900.1 - 6.900.11



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Paper Authors

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Rose Marra

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Andrew Lau

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John Wise

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Robert Pangborn

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

Session 2793

Student Assessments of Engineering First-Year Seminars Andrew S. Lau, Robert N. Pangborn, John C. Wise, Rose M. Marra Pennsylvania State University / University of Missouri


As of summer 1999, the Pennsylvania State University requires all first-year students to complete a one-credit first-year seminar (FYS) as part of their General Education requirements. In fact, many engineering FYS’s were first offered in fall 1998 (as electives), and assessment has been ongoing since that semester. Engineering seminars have these four specific goals: 1. Introduce students to a specific field, or a number of fields, of study in engineering; 2. Acquaint students with tools, resources and opportunities available to them; 3. Provide exposure to some of the professional skills and competencies associated with academic study and the practice of engineering; 4. Encourage networking and interaction with faculty, students, and engineers. Thus far, engineering seminars with 51 unique titles have been offered. This paper reports on the assessment process and results from Fall 1998 through Spring 2000 (4 semesters). The assessment is performed in two ways; a written student survey completed at the end of the course, and focus groups conducted early in the semester following the completion of a seminar. The goals of the assessment are to answer these questions: • Overall, how satisfied are students with offerings? • Are seminar objectives being achieved? • What activities are students experiencing in seminars? The results are tabulated and summarized and given to the respective faculty members to guide the course development. They are also used to identify specific areas for development of workshops and course modules. In general, the results show that students are satisfied with their seminar experiences, and that seminar objectives are being achieved in the areas of teamwork and other aspects of active learning. The seminars help students use learning resources of the university, especially computers. The greatest effect on students is that they report a much better understanding of engineering, with increased motivation and confidence in majoring in engineering.

I. Introduction

The Engineering First-Year Seminar Program was developed to meet new, university-wide general education requirements, and became mandatory in summer 1999. The general education program consists of 45 credits plus a minimum one-credit first-year seminar. The recommendations for general education that were eventually adopted unanimously by the Faculty Senate emphasized, above all, the active engagement of students in their education. A variety of measures were taken to foster curricular experimentation, encourage dialogue and critical thinking, and incorporate collaboration and teamwork into the courses that comprise the general education program. In order to establish this kind of expectation right from the start for incoming students, a new first-year seminar requirement was established. Rather than prescribe the content and format for the seminars, the proposal advocated that the faculty in the

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Marra, R., & Lau, A., & Wise, J., & Pangborn, R. (2001, June), Student Assessments Of Engineering First Year Seminars Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9805

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