San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.1347.1 - 25.1347.9
The Teacher Effect: Explaining Retention Gains in First-Year Engineering Projects CoursesFirst-Year Engineering Projects Courses (FYEP) courses have been found to produce significantretention gains. 1 Investigation is on-going into the reasons driving theses retention gains.Possible reasons include the development of self-efficacy, involvement in learning communities,the bolstering of professional identity, project-based learning and the unique set of skillspossessed by the teacher of the FYEP course. The present study investigates the last of thesereasons, the impact of the FYEP teacher on the course experiences that lead to retention.The FYEP course is composed of small sections with a broad range of topics including assistivetechnology, scientific displays, re-engineering, sustainable design, and educational toys. Theclass meets for five hours per week with one hour of lecture and four hours of lab. Students areorganized into teams and must meet important milestones culminating in an end-of-semesterdesign competition. To implement this course structure, the FYEP teacher has to have a uniqueset of skills to facilitate the hands-on, team-based design project. The teacher must frame thecourse elements in such a way as to enable to complete the design and building of a complexprojects within a 15 week format. In addition, the teacher has to build interest in the projecttopics, be available to support the design teams at critical stages of the project while stillchallenging them to work independently as self-managing work teams while developingtechnical expertise. 2For this study, the method includes three sets of data. The first is from the university FacultyCourse Questionnaire (FCQ) which is similar to a method of surveying students to evaluateclasses at many universities. The second data set is provided is institutional research data on theretention of students within the college of engineering at a western flagship state university. Thethird dataset is a qualitative focus group procedure performed with the students in the course atthe end of the semester. This dataset provides more in-depth data on the perceived performanceof teachers than can be obtained from the quantitative survey feedback. Data were collectedacross a six year period. FCQ ratings were collected on student interest, teacher availability,workload, and intellectual challenge as well as overall instructor and course ratings. Theseresults were compared with retention rates by FYEP course sections and with other classestaught with FYEP teachers, and with FCQ results from across the college of engineering.Results were substantiated by the qualitative feedback from course focus groups. Results will bediscussed in the paper.References1 N. L. Fortenberry et al. “Engineering Education Research Aids Instruction,” Science Vol. 317,August 2007.2 L. M. Aleamoni. “Student Rating Myths Versus Research Facts from 1924 to 1998,” Journal ofPersonnel Evaluation in Education 13:2 153-166, (1999).
Knight, D., & Louie, B., & Hornback, J. M. (2012, June), The Teacher Effect: Explaining Retention Gains in First-year Engineering Projects Courses Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/22104
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