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Work In Progress: From Scratch - The Design of a First-Year Engineering Programming Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Sunday 5-Minute Work-in-Progress Postcard Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Philip Reid Brown Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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Philip Brown is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Undergraduate Education at Rutgers University in the School of Engineering. Philip received his PhD from the Department of Engineering Education at Virgnia Tech. His research interests include the use of motivation, cognition and learning theories in engineering education research and practice, pedagogy for programming courses, and better understanding student perspectives in engineering programs.

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This work in progress study concerns the design and implementation of a first-year programming course for engineering students at a large public university in the Mid-Atlantic United States. Mid-Atlantic University (MAU) accepts approximately 800 first-year engineering students annually, and has an enrollment of approximately 1200 students in its fall and spring Introductory Programming Class (IPC), taught in MATLAB. The IPC is currently under redesign through the process of Backward Design[1]. The research around this redesign attempts to answer the following question: How can the implementation of non-traditional pedagogy be used to increase self-efficacy, motivation, learning and retention in an introductory programming class? This redesign is being implemented in three phases. The first and current phase emphasizes including active learning activities in lecture, and the use of schema theory in creating new course materials. The second phase will emphasize implementing supplemental online resources, a non-traditional digital textbook format, and the addition of a project to the course to give students more autonomy over their learning process. The final phase will be the division of the class into two courses, one for students with prior programming experience, and one for students who are new to programming. This paper primarily discusses the first phase. Preliminary results show that students in Phase 1 withdrew from the course at a lower rate. However, the continuing gap between students who have programmed before and students who have not in both motivation and self-efficacy suggests that additional redesign is still needed.

Brown, P. R. (2017, June), Work In Progress: From Scratch - The Design of a First-Year Engineering Programming Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29161

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