June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1217.1 - 14.1217.7
Islands, Bridges, or Both? First-Year Experience Courses for Engineering and Technology Students
A student’s ability to succeed in college depends on many variables. In recent years, considerable attention has been given to providing the appropriate introduction to college life through the use of first-year experience courses. The goal of such approaches is to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives at a foundation-level in order to prepare them for success in their subsequent college courses. First-year experience courses, therefore, serve as a powerful tool in aiding student retention, engagement, satisfaction, and, ultimately, success in higher education. This paper identifies the need for such courses; explains the development and pedagogic practices involved in first-year courses; outlines the similarities and differences in both engineering- and technology-oriented courses; and discusses lessons-to-date and next steps in refining first-year experience courses for students.
As educators, we want our students to integrate concepts and information across courses and disciplines, applying knowledge learned in one course to material in other courses, and applying academic learning to situations outside the formal classroom. Many of the new pedagogies that have gained attention in recent decades aim to foster students’ abilities to perform these higher- order intellectual tasks. But too often, we expect students to carry out these tasks with little support. The result is that many students experience college education as a fragmented series of courses and requirements that fail to add up to any coherent body of knowledge. This fragmentation is exacerbated when students attend college part-time or attend several institutions over their college careers, patterns that are increasingly common1.
At the same time, society’s need for “integrative thinkers who can see connections in seemingly disparate information and draw on a wide range of knowledge to make decisions” has never been greater2. AAC&U’s Greater Expectations report argues that universities have a responsibility to help students become integrative thinkers who can “adapt the skills learned in one situation to problems encountered in another”2. Another recent study of mathematical and verbal literacy found that levels of these were significantly higher among students who said that their coursework emphasized applying theories or concepts to practical problems3.
Learning Communities in Engineering and Technology
Engineering and technology students, in many instances, lack the fundamentals necessary to succeed in upper-division courses. Thus, for the past several years, faculty at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have studied and developed approaches to teaching and learning using theories of intellectual development in college like Bloom’s Taxonomy4. The group has conceived of these skills as developing over time and with practice, and has identified a set of rubrics that define proficiency in them. It has also created sample assignments and activities that allow students to practice and faculty to assess these abilities,
Meyer, J., & Hundley, S., & Yurtseven, H. O. (2009, June), The First Year Experience Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4643
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