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The Impact of One-Credit Introductory Engineering Courses on Engineering Self-Efficacy: Seminar v. Project-Based

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 2A: Using Alternative Measurements to Look at Students and Their Success

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Nicholas Andres Brake Lamar University Orcid 16x16

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Nicholas Brake is currently an Assistant Professor in the civil and environmental department at Lamar University. He received his B.S. (2005), M.S. (2008), and Ph.D. (2012) from Michigan State University. His area of expertise is in cementitious composites which includes: fracture and fatigue mechanics of quasi-brittle materials, recycled concrete, conductive concrete, reinforced concrete, pervious concrete, geopolymer, and structural dynamics. He currently teaches a wide array of courses that includes statics, reinforced concrete design, structural analysis, and materials engineering. Dr. Brake actively integrates project based and peer assisted learning pedagogies into his courses.

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James C. Curry

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Dr. James Curry is an Associate Professor in the Lamar Industrial Engineering department.

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This evidence-based practice paper presents the results of two different one-credit introductory engineering courses: i) a project based and peer assisted learning introductory engineering course focusing on the civil engineering discipline and ii) a seminar course focusing on career planning and design and process improvement theory. The courses were developed to prepare college civil engineering freshman for the rigor of upper level engineering courses by introducing them to various engineering systems, design philosophies, and basic engineering computations. A one-credit first-year introductory course can be utilized by institutions who are limited by state mandated maximum total credit-hours and cost, but still require sufficient student engagement, motivation, and retention.

In the project-based course, a special focus is placed on civil engineering systems which includes topics on structural health monitoring, concrete materials, heat of hydration, wind energy harvesting, automobile fuel consumption, vibration and earthquake engineering, and CAD drawing/3D printing. The students are required to complete mini-projects that supplement each of these topics. The projects introduce the students to Microsoft Excel®, PowerPoint®, Pasco®, StaadPro®, and 3D AutoCAD®. The students also learn how to use non-linear solvers for inverse analysis problems, handle large data sets from various sensor outputs, conduct regression analysis, numerically differentiate and integrate, optimize, create technical memos, lab reports, posters, and prepare their resumes.

The seminar course focuses on engineering as a career. The course presents topic seminars on career advice, professional organizations, co-op / internships, and a discussion of the different engineering disciplines. The course also covers cross-discipline trendy topics including automation, lean, six sigma and project management. The assignments in this course include building a resume, identifying in-demand skills using job postings, and reading assignments on project management and lean engineering. The grading is based on assignments and attendance.

There is a need to evaluate these courses effectiveness in increasing students’ engineering self-efficacy, confidence, and motivation, and justify larger-scale implementation into the engineering curriculum. Students in both courses were given a 40 item pre- and post- online survey to assess their engineering design confidence and motivation, and self-efficacy in engineering skills, technical ability, design, and tinkering, teamwork skills, and their career awareness. Significant gains in the pre/post populations were evaluated using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test.

Brake, N. A., & Curry, J. C. (2016, June), The Impact of One-Credit Introductory Engineering Courses on Engineering Self-Efficacy: Seminar v. Project-Based Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26176

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