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WIP: Mathematical Software and Programming Preparation of Undergraduate Engineering Students in Mathematics Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 4: Assessing Success in Mathematics Education

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Paper Authors


Johannah L. Crandall Washington State University

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Johannah Crandall is a PhD student in Mathematics and Science Education, with research interests including undergraduate engineering education, especially transferable mathematical knowledge for use in modeling software and discrete solvers.

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Kristin Lesseig Washington State University

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Kristin Lesseig is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the College of Education at Washington State University Vancouver. She earned her PhD at Oregon State University and currently teaches elementary and secondary mathematics content and methods courses as well as doctoral level courses focused on research in mathematics and science learning at WSUV. Kristin’s research focuses on mathematical knowledge for teaching proof and the design of professional learning experiences that can support teachers’ ability to promote mathematical reasoning in middle and high school classrooms. Kristin served as principal investigator on a 3-year Math Science Partnership grant designed to support middle grades teachers in implementing STEM Design Challenges aligned with CCSSM and NGSS content and practice standards and continues to collaborate on STEM-related projects.

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This work seeks to delineate the perceived and actual contributions to software and programming skills in undergraduate engineering students by mathematics and engineering departments, respectively. Engineering faculty in mechanical, electrical, chemical, and computer engineering reported in the authors' recently conducted study that undergraduate students lacked expected software knowledge and programming skills upon entry into core engineering courses. These reports parallel instances in the literature in which engineering faculty cite inadequate student preparation within the mathematics portion of the curriculum, not only in conceptual mathematical understanding, but in capacity for leveraging industry-critical mathematical software. The study in progress collected data on the types of mathematical software and/or programming platforms to which undergraduate engineering students are exposed in the mathematics courses of their degree programs. Online open-ended surveys were administered to students enrolled in an ABET accredited engineering program in the contexts of differential equations and numerical analysis courses. The structure of the institution is such that the engineering and mathematics departments are in separate colleges while sharing a few conjoint (cross-listed) courses. Survey items probed the perceived integration of mathematical (instructional) content with the demonstration or use of each software or programming platform, the extent to which students actually engaged with (did projects with) the software/programming tool, the extent to which the students’ engagement with the software/programming tool was based on problems perceived as relevant to their engineering track or future career, and the extent to which the software used in the mathematics courses was considered by the students to be industry-critical.

Crandall, J. L., & Lesseig, K. (2020, June), WIP: Mathematical Software and Programming Preparation of Undergraduate Engineering Students in Mathematics Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35558

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