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Success Strategies For First Year Pre Engineering Students

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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

6.909.1 - 6.909.12



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Paper Authors

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Peter Golding

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Walter Fisher

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Stella Quinones

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

Session 2793

Success Strategies for First-Year Pre-Engineering Students

Walter Fisher, Stella Quinones, Peter Golding The University of Texas at El Paso


An innovative, comprehensive program for entering engineering and science students called CircLES (Circles of Learning for Entering Students) has been implemented at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to improve student success and retention in the first year and to increase persistence to graduation. An important part of this program addresses the needs of students who enter the university with a weak math background that requires them to complete one or more developmental math courses. These students, who typically completed only the minimum math requirements in high school, are placed into non-credit courses that build their math background to college-level.

The CircLES program enrolls groups of twenty-five students into four courses: developmental math, English composition, university seminar (required of all entering freshmen), and introduction to engineering. ÀClusteringÀ of students in these four courses creates a learning community that would otherwise not develop at UTEP because it is a commuter university. Interaction between the four instructors, especially between the math, university seminar, and introduction to engineering instructors, creates an interdisciplinary team whose goal is to promote student success. Student success strategies, self-responsibility, and critical thinking skills are developed in the university seminar course. The developmental math course provides the math background necessary for these students to enter college-level math courses. Most of the students have little difficulty in passing the developmental math course, but they have very poor understanding of how to use the abstract concepts learned in math to solve problems. This weakness causes many students to do poorly in subsequent technical courses and/or to give up on a career in engineering. The introduction to engineering course serves as a bridge between the abstract concepts learned in math and their application to ÀrealÀ problems and explores the world of engineering through hands-on projects. The problem solving skills learned in this course provide a solid foundation for success in the math, science and engineering courses that follow.

This paper describes the evolution of the ÀclusterÀ learning community, the importance of the ÀclusterÀ instructor team, the development of student success strategies and critical thinking skills, the enhancement of applied math skills through problem solving, the use of hands-on projects to explore engineering and further develop applied math skills, and the development of team skills that support student learning.

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

Golding, P., & Fisher, W., & Quinones, S. (2001, June), Success Strategies For First Year Pre Engineering Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9819

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