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The Freshman Engineering Experience: The Student Voice

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.623.1 - 5.623.8



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Paper Authors

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Scott White

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Kirsten Lowrey

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George M. Bodner

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Dawn Del Carlo

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Ala Samarapungavan

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William C. Oakes

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

Session 3653

The Freshman Engineering Experience: The Student Voice

George Bodner, William Oakes, Kirsten Lowrey, Dawn Del Carlo, Scott White, and Ala Samarapungavan

Purdue University


Discussions between program officers from the GE Fund and faculty in the Schools of Science, Education and Engineering that began in September, 1996 eventually lead to a multi-year commitment to support an examination of the Freshman Engineering Program at Purdue University, as a first step toward a re-examination of the process by which engineers are educated at that institution. Faculty and representatives from the Dean’s Offices in both Science and Engineering became involved in this project because a significant fraction of the “freshman engineering experience” is delivered by faculty in the Departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics within the School of Science. From the beginning of this project it was clear that the first step toward making significant, worthwhile, and lasting changes in the freshman engineering experience involved obtaining a better understanding of the lived experience of freshman engineers from the perspectives of both the students, the faculty who teach courses taken by these students, and the faculty who teaches courses that build on this foundation. A significant fraction of the first-year’s effort was therefore devoted to a self study.


The significance of this study revolves around five issues.

• This study provides an example of the difference between the research paradigms known as phenomenology and phenomenography.

• It provides an example of how research methodologies developed for use in science education can be adapted for institutional research that provides a basis for the self-study required by accrediting agencies such as NCA (The North Central Association Commission on Institutions of Higher Education) and ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

• It provides an example of cross-discipline curriculum reform efforts that involve not only coordinated efforts within a given school at the tertiary level — e.g., among faculty in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics — but involve interactions between faculty who deliver

White, S., & Lowrey, K., & Bodner, G. M., & Del Carlo, D., & Samarapungavan, A., & Oakes, W. C. (2000, June), The Freshman Engineering Experience: The Student Voice Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8393

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