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Technology And Gender Issues: Development And Assessment Of A Freshman General Education Course In The College Of Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

The Impact of Curriculum on the Retention of Women Students

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1377.1 - 12.1377.23



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Paper Authors


Patricia Backer San Jose State University

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Patricia Backer is a Professor and chair of the Department of Aviation and Technology in the
College of Engineering at SJSU. She holds a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers
University, a MA and MS degree from Tennessee Temple University, and a MA and PhD from
Ohio State. Her research interests are in the integration of multimedia and web-based learning
into technology instruction.

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

Technology and Gender Issues: Development and Assessment of a freshman General Education course in the College of Engineering Abstract

This class, Technology VS Women, explores the interaction of gender with technology and answers questions such as: Is technology a “male” science? Is modern technology compatible to both male and female users? What does history tell us about the role of women at work relating to technology? The ideas presented in this course challenges some commonly held myths and misconceptions about technology in our society. This course focuses on the technological changes since 1900 and how they have affected both men and women. The effect of cultural biases and perspectives on the working and educational environments also are addressed. This course is part of the Metropolitan University Scholars’ Experience (MUSE) at San Jose State University (SJSU). MUSE courses are designed to help new freshmen make an effective transition into college. Discovery, research, critical thinking, written work, attention to the rich cultural diversity of the campus, and active discussion are key parts of this MUSE course. Technology VS Women has been taught for four years at SJSU. During this time, we have collected yearly assessment data on this course to assure its meets the General Education (GE) Student Learning Objectives.

MUSE Program at SJSU

There are many different models for first-year experience programs in engineering. Pennsylvania State University requires that all freshmen complete a one-unit seminar as part of their GE requirements. In four semesters, they offered 51 unique engineering seminars.1 The researchers found that the students in these seminars reported “moderate or greater progress in several key areas: teamwork (37%), using computers (41%), and making life decisions (37%)”. Overall, 63% of the 1024 students who took these seminars were satisfied. A different approach was taken by the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University. Portland State has a four year General Education program that includes “freshman and sophomore inquiry sequences, junior level cluster courses that help students focus on a particular theme of inquiry, as well as the Senior Capstone project.”2 The freshmen inquiry course on Design & Society is one of nine themes offered.

In Fall 2002, SJSU began their MUSE program for incoming freshmen. MUSE was designed to bridge the gap from high school to college. MUSE includes academic seminars on a variety of subjects that help the freshmen students gain skills that are necessary to academic success. In addition, all MUSE classes are certified in one of SJSU’s General Education areas. Therefore, students taking the MUSE seminars receive three units of General Education credit. The seminars qualify in one of the following areas: B1 (physical science), B2 (life science), C1 (arts), C2 (letters), D1 (human behavior), or E (human understanding and development). In contrast to many freshmen-level classes, the MUSE seminars are limited to seventeen students. Also, freshmen are allowed to only take one MUSE course. The goals and learning outcomes for the MUSE seminars are shown in Figure 1.

Backer, P. (2007, June), Technology And Gender Issues: Development And Assessment Of A Freshman General Education Course In The College Of Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1588

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