East Lansing, Michigan
July 26, 2020
July 26, 2020
July 28, 2020
Many engineering students are excited and motivated when they begin as freshman students, but many change majors or leave early in the first year, having limited exposure to engineering and an abundance to general education requirements. The Citadel had a very historic and outdated general education curriculum, with many courses in the Humanities, and some in basic science and math. After years of limited or no progress in students’ critical thinking over four years, the school revised its general education and opted for a strand model. One of the first courses freshmen now experience is a Freshman Seminar and linked composition course. Known as a high impact practice, the Freshman Seminar has been credibly shown to improve student retention and enhance student learning. The academic Freshman Seminar now serves as the common starting point for all entering freshman. It is one of three classes that require the students to produce work that will be graded on six General Education outcomes. The overall theme of the seminar, as well as the topics of the individual seminar sections, are determined by the faculty. Based on the freshman population, there are typically 14-28 different seminar topics and 18-23 sections with approximately 20 students per section. Because of the broad nature of the General Education outcomes, each seminar section varies in its particular topic, spanning many different disciplines. The School of Engineering at The Citadel used the curriculum update as an opportunity to engage both engineering and non-engineering students with engineering topics in the freshman seminars. The new plan calls for each section of the Freshman Seminar to be matched with a three-credit-hour composition course. The composition class is an essential complement to the academic seminar. The instructor of the composition class and the instructor of the seminar develop together their reading lists and assignments. This is the first of several opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration afforded faculty in the new GenEd plan. The freshman seminar exposes students to engineering beyond a calculated solution, allowing them to think through early decisions and consequences. For engineering students, this initiative helped them see additional pathways in engineering and their larger role. Students worked individually and in teams, and understand the types of knowledge and abilities essential to succeed. The objectives of this paper are to explain some of the Freshman Seminars that provide students with early exposure to engineering, to assess the results quantitatively and qualitatively through surveys, and to discuss the future direction of the program.
Skenes, K., & Rabb, R. J., & Washuta, N. J., & Righter, J. (2020, July), Teaching Engineering in the General Education Curriculum Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. https://peer.asee.org/35779
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