June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1285.1 - 13.1285.14
The WSU Model for Engineering Mathematics Education: A Multiyear Assessment and Expansion to Collaborating Institutions Abstract
The inability of incoming students to advance past the traditional first-year calculus sequence is a primary cause of attrition in engineering programs across the country. As a result, this paper will describe an NSF funded initiative at Wright State University to redefine the way engineering mathematics is taught, with the goal of increasing student retention, motivation and success in engineering. The WSU approach begins with the development of a novel first-year engineering mathematics course, EGR 101 “Introductory Mathematics for Engineering Applications.” Taught by engineering faculty, the course includes lecture, laboratory and recitation components. Using an application-oriented, hands-on approach, the course addresses only the salient math topics actually used in core engineering courses. These include the traditional physics, engineering mechanics, electric circuits and computer programming sequences. The EGR 101 course replaces traditional math prerequisite requirements for the above core courses, so that students can advance in the curriculum without having completed a traditional first-year calculus sequence. The WSU model concludes with a revised engineering math sequence, taught by the math department later in the curriculum, in concert with College and ABET requirements. The result has shifted the traditional emphasis on math prerequisite requirements to an emphasis on engineering motivation for math, with a "just-in-time" structuring of the required math sequence. This paper includes significant updates since the approach was last reported, including a multiyear assessment at Wright State University and expansion of the program to collaborating institutions.
The traditional approach to engineering mathematics education begins with at least one year of freshman calculus as a prerequisite to subsequent core engineering courses. However, the inability of incoming students to successfully advance past the traditional freshman calculus sequence plagues student retention and success in engineering programs across the country. Indeed, as noted by the NSF Director of Engineering Education and Centers1, the traditional engineering curriculum has been essentially unchanged for half a century - heavily front-loaded with classical math prerequisites, with too little engineering early in the curriculum. This makes engineering unattractive to potential recruits, and difficult to endure for those brave enough to give it a try. This is particularly so for members of traditionally underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, whose enrollment and retention in engineering has not kept pace with the demands of an increasingly diverse society. As highlighted by the U.S. Department of Education2 and more recently by the National Academies3, the global competitiveness of our great nation may ultimately rest on our ability to rise above this gathering storm in engineering and STEM education. As such, there is a drastic need for a proven model which eliminates the first-year mathematics bottleneck in the traditional engineering curriculum, yet can be readily adopted by engineering programs across the country. Such is the focus of this work.
Klingbeil, N., & Rattan, K., & Raymer, M., & Reynolds, D., & Mercer, R., & Kukreti, A., & Randolph, B. (2008, June), The Wsu Model For Engineering Mathematics Education: A Multiyear Assessment And Expansion To Collaborating Institutions Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3630
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