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Transitioning An Experimental Fundamental Programming Course from Pilot to Regular Course: Effective Solutions to Unexpected Challenges

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First Year Programs Division Poster Session: The Best Place to Really Talk about First-Year Education

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1603.1 - 26.1603.8



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Paper Authors


Todd R Hamrick West Virginia University

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Dr. Todd Hamrick, Ph.D. is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Freshman Engineering Program at West Virginia University’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, a position he has held since 2011. He received his Ph.D. that same year from WVU in Mechanical Engineering, with studies in efficiency improvement in well drilling and organic solar cells. Dr. Hamrick received undergraduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering and German in 1987, and returned to academia after a 22-year engineering career in industry. During his career, Dr. Hamrick served in a broad range of positions including design, product development, tool and die, manufacturing, sales, and management. His teaching style brings practical, innovative, experience-based learning to the classroom, where hands-on projects that reflect real-world applications are valued by students.

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Transitioning An Experimental Fundamental Programming Course From Pilot To Regular Course: Effective Solutions To Unexpected ChallengesA large state university has a common first year engineering program. Two consecutiveengineering fundamentals course are taught, the second of which is a project based fundamentalMatlab programming course. The traditional course uses projects from a wide range ofengineering disciplines in order to appeal to varied interests of students. However, all arecomputational, which was thought to leave kinesthetic learners underserved. A pilot course wasdeveloped in the summer of 2012 that used robotic projects instead of computational projects toteach programming fundamentals. This approach was quite successful, particularly with its targetconsort of kinesthetic learners, so the pilot was extended. It was taught the following summer,and in small sections during the 2013-2014 semesters. Much of this work is described inprevious ASEE conference proceedings.After pilot funding had been exhausted, the robotic version was started as a regular section of thecourse in the fall of 2014, and is to be continued into 2015. Transition from pilot to regularcourse is often challenging. For this course it required transferring cost responsibility from theuniversity to students, changes made to the course offering, and technical alterations to the class.Unexpected issues arose such as lower than desired enrollment in the first semester, higher thanexpected student costs, and logistical difficulties with delivering the hands-on components to alarger class section. In this paper the long term efficacy of the course is explored throughexamining how students who took the course during its pilot phase fared in later courses thatbuild upon its learning outcomes. Additionally, transition issues from pilot to regular course andsolutions to implementation difficulties are described. Future work toward continuousimprovement is also considered. This work extends and expands upon previously publishedconference proceedings by following students after pilot courses, and by describing the process,challenges, and efficacy of solutions in transitioning from pilot to regular course.

Hamrick, T. R. (2015, June), Transitioning An Experimental Fundamental Programming Course from Pilot to Regular Course: Effective Solutions to Unexpected Challenges Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24939

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