June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1284.1 - 14.1284.12
Tutorials and In-Class Activity for Improving Student Performance in a First Year Engineering Course
Abstract An important factor in student satisfaction and retention in engineering courses is their pre- requisite knowledge. We seek to address the needs of these students who are not calculus-ready upon entering our first year engineering program by introducing self-paced video tutorial modules that deliver background in basic engineering mathematics, and an in-class activity applying those mathematical concepts. We are focusing on logarithms and trigonometric functions, as they are used ubiquitously in engineering, and have been identified as particularly problematic for students in our classes. Because future engineering classes will demand frequent recall of these mathematical concepts, the modules and demonstration focused on tying these concepts to prior knowledge in hopes of reducing cognitive load. The objective of this study is to examine the effects of having first year engineering students use these resources in terms of student performance and their perception of their own learning gains.
We based the design of the resources on social constructivist theory, allowing students to build on what they already know. The video modules on trigonometric functions take students from very basic definitions and relationships to solving equations using these terms. Through an in- class activity using sine functions, students observe real objects in cyclic motion, collect data from them, manipulate the data, interpret it, and make predictions about how related systems will behave. This essentially moves students through the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy from knowledge to synthesis. The experimental design consisted of comparisons between three main groups: 1) controls, 2) those who viewed the tutorials, and 3) those who viewed the tutorials and participated in the in-class activity. Student performance on pre- and post- content tests, and self-assessments of learning gains were compared. We report on results of these assessments, and their implications for affecting change in student success, especially for students with weak pre-requisite skills.
Introduction Students entering our first year engineering course arrive with different levels of mathematics preparation, which is of critical importance to their academic success. In our program, students scoring below a proficiency level on an institution-wide mathematics placement test are enrolled in a first semester course with an additional one-hour session (“recitation”) for content review and practice. However, even with this support, 53% of these students earned a D or F, or withdrew from the course (DFW rate). This is over twice the DFW rate of 20% for all other first year engineering students. The US is one of the few industrialized nations that do not have national mathematics standards1. Seventy-two percent of the states require three or less mathematics courses for a high school diploma, while twenty two percent require four mathematics credits. Consistent across states is
Benson, L., & Bowman, D., & Hutchison, R. R., & Wade, C. (2009, June), Tutorials And In Class Activity For Improving Student Performance In A First Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5349
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