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Journal Papers

The following is a list of all publications generated by the Foundation Coalition, listed by author. These documents require the use of the Adobe Acrobat software in order to view their contents.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



  • Glover, C.J., Lunsford, K.M., Fleming, J.A., 1992, “TAMU/NSF Engineering Core Curriculum Course 1: Conservation Principles in Engineering,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: In an effort to encourage new approaches to teaching engineering, the National Science Foundation has supported the development of four new courses at Texas A&M University build a solid TAMU). These new courses are designed to foundation for further engineering study and practice and are intended to replace the content normally taught in a set of "core" engineering science courses. This paper addresses key elements of one of these new courses (Course 1). Other elements of the program are discussed elsewhere.

    Course 1 is the keynote course of this four-course sequence. As such it has our primary objectives, 1) to present the unifying structure of engineering and science, 2) to develop the basic equations of engineering for macroscopic systems, 3) to provide experience with applying fundamentals to problems in traditional areas, and 4) to present the big picture. Additionally, it serves to provide a transition from physics, chemistry, and mathematics to engineering.

    In this course we try to open the students’ eyes to the vast amount of understanding that can be achieved simply by counting a variety of extensive properties for a variety of systems. From this perspective our primary goal throughout the course is to move the students to a point of view that in approaching problems, whether they are problems they have seen before or not, they should do so from a perspective of applying the laws and of counting extensive properties. We believe that if they approach problems by asking “What does counting mass (energy, linear momentum, angular momentum, charge, entropy, mechanical energy, thermal energy, electrical energy, etc.) tell me?“, then they can have a very strong foundation for approaching new problems in a creative and conceptual way.


  • Nikles, D., Cordes, D., Hopenwasser, A., Izatt, J.R., Laurie, C., Parker, J.K., 1995, “A General Chemistry Course Sequence for an Integrated Freshman Year Engineering Curriculum,” Gordon Research Conference, Ventura, California, January 8-13, 1995.
  • Izatt, J.R., Cordes, D., Hopenwasser, A., Laurie, C., Parker, J.K., 1995, “An Integrated Freshman Year Engineering Course,” American Association of Physics Teachers Meeting, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, August 7-12, 1995.
  • Roedel, R.J., Kawski, M., Doak, B., Politano, M., Duerden, S., Green, M., Kelly, J., Linder, D., Evans, D.L., 1995, “An Integrated, Project-based, Introductory Course in Calculus, Physics, English, and Engineering,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Arizona State University is a member of the NSF-sponsored Engineering Education Coalition known as the Foundation Coalition. This paper describes the development of an integrated introductory course delivered to freshman engineering students at ASU in the Fall '94 semester as a part of the Foundation Coalition program.

    The course combined and integrated material from introductory courses in calculus, physics, English composition, and engineering, normally taught in a stand-alone format. The calculus used in this course was based on the ``Harvard reform model'' and include d a review of functions, the derivative, the definite integral, and application of these topics to physics and engineering problems. The physics was mechanics-based, with emphasis on kinematics, dynamics, conservation principles, rotational motion, and re lativity.

    What differentiated this integrated package from versions found at other institutions in the Coalition was (a) the inclusion of English composition, and (b) the project-based introduction to engineering. In this integrated course, the students learned to organize and develop ideas for both technical and general audiences. In addition, they learned the use of rhetorical principles with readings from the philosophy of science, engineering case studies, and so on.

    The over-arching framework for the class was the use of engineering projects to teach design and modeling principles. The three projects incorporated the calculus and physics that had been learned to date in the class. The first utilized kinematics and curve-fitting to functions to design and build a simple projectile launcher; the second employed dynamics and numerical integration to design and build a bungee drop system; and the third project, which also served as the final exam, used rotational motion concepts and a data acquisition system to identify the shape and material of a hidden object.

    The integrated course also employed considerable use of computers in an active learning environment that stressed teaming and other quality tools.

  • Bellamy, L., McNeill, B., Bailey, J., Roedel, R.J., Moor, W., Zwiebel, I., Laananen, D., 1995, “An Introduction to Engineering Design: Teaching the Engineering Process Through Teaming and the Continuous Improvement Philosophy,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: In this paper we describe a first year required course in engineering design, initiated at ASU in the Fall '94 semester. The organizing thread and philosophy for the course is the process of engineering, utilizing teaming and continuous improvement, based on Deming's fourteen points. Process is defined as a collection of interrelated tasks that take one from input to output in the engineering environment.

    The course has three components: Process Concepts, Design Laboratory, and Computer Modeling. In the concepts section, the emphasis is on a problem solving heuristic similar to the Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act process or the Boeing Seven Step problem solving process. The concepts section meets once a week for two hours in a large, multimedia classroom with a center podium and tables for teams of four students. The capacity of the concepts class is 120 students.

    The design laboratory component of the class has two main portions: (1) A Mechanical Dissection and Reassembly of an Artifact, in which the reassembly process is developed, documented, and evaluated using community volunteers for testing, and (2) An Artifact Design for Reproducible Performance, in which an object is designed, constructed, and evaluated. In the Fall '94 semester, students dissected a telephone for the reassembly process and constructed a mouse trap powered model airplane launcher for the artifact design process.

    In the computer modeling component of the course, students learn how to develop models conceptually and then evaluate these models with Excel spreadsheets and TKSolver. Nine different computer models are generated and evaluated in this portion of the course, which meets in a computer classroom which contains approximately 25 computers.

    The class combines active learning and technology enhanced education. More details of the course content and the assessment and evaluation of the student performance will be described in the talk.

  • Parker, J.K., Cordes, D., Hopenwasser, A., Izatt, J.R., Laurie, C., Nikles, D., 1995, “Curriculum Integration in the Freshman Year at the University of Alabama - Foundation Coalition Program,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The University of Alabama presented its first set of freshman year courses as part of the NSF sponsored Foundation Coalition during the 1994-1995 academic year. The three major thrust areas of this coalition are: (1) curriculum integration, (2) technology-enabled education, and (3) human interface issues (learning styles, active and cooperative learning). The focus of this paper is on the integration aspects of the freshman year engineering, mathematics, and sciences curriculum.

    Most freshman level mathematics, chemistry, and physics courses are taught in isolation from each other. Students respond by "compartmentalizing" their technical knowledge without awareness of the connections between subjects. The traditional "cafeteria" style process for selection of courses further componds the problem. Most engineering programs view the "output" of the freshman math and science courses as the "input" into their courses. Consequently, there is relatively little interaction on the education level between engineering professors and their colleagues in the math and science departments.

    As a result, most engineering programs lose many students during the freshman year. Our solution to this problem is an integrated set of courses for all engineering majors in chemistry (CH 131/132), engineering (GES 131/132), mathematics (MA 131/132), and physics (PH 131/132), which must be taken together. The authors of this paper were the instructors for the initial offering of the courses mentioned above. The paper will focus on several specific examples of curriculum integration that have been attempted, along with observations about the success of the program.

    The Foundation Coalition consists of the following: Arizona State University, Maricopa Community College District, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University - Kingsville, Texas Women's University, The University of Alabama.

  • Griffin, R.B., Everett, L.J., Keating, P.B., Lagoudas, D., Tebeaux, E., Parker, D., Bassichis, W., Barrow, D., 1995, “Planning the Texas A&M University College of Engineering Sophomore Year Integrated Curriculum,” Fourth World Conference on Engineering Education, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 1995, vol. 1, pp. 228-232.
  • Cordes, D., Parker, J.K., Hopenwasser, A., Laurie, C., Izatt, J.R., Nikles, D., 1995, “Teaming in Technical Courses,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The University of Alabama is one of seven school participating in the Foundation Coalition, a partnership looking at curriculum integration, human-interface issues (active and cooperative learning), and technology-enabled education within the undergraduate engineering curriculum. As a result, the 1994-1995 academic year saw a completely new curriculum being prototyped for a class of 36 volunteer students within the College.

    The curriculum in question provides an integrated 13-hour sequence of Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering Design for the students. One of the central themes to this sequence is the concept of teams and teaming. Students work in teams of four students throughout this course sequence. These teams operate as a unit for all classes, mathematics recitations, physics and chemistry laboratories, and all engineering design projects.

    As this is the first significant, large-scale, curriculum-wide implementation of teaming within the College, a number of strategies for how to proceed were identified (and attempted). Concern was placed on ensuring that students gain both the ability to function effectively within a team environment and also demonstrate their own individual ability to perform the task in question.

    This paper examines the processes by which teaming is performed within the integrated freshman year of the Foundation Coalition. It looks at successes that have been realized, and also point out techniques that should not be repeated. The authors summarize their opinions about the strengths (and weaknesses) of the process, as well as identifying the principal ``lessons learned'' for both future semesters of this curriculum and other individuals interested in incorporating teaming into their own courses. In addition, the authors comment on the similarities (and differences) between freshmen students and upper-level engineering students with respect to teams and teaming.


  • Mashburn, B., Monk, B., Smith, R., Lee, T., Bredeson, J., 1996, “Experiences with a New Engineering Sophomore Year,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: This paper discusses first-year experiences in the implementation of a new engineering sophomore year at The University of Alabama (UofA). This curriculum development process is a part of The National Science Foundation’s Foundation Coalition (FC) Program at UofA. To provide background for the new sophomore year, the paper discusses the philosophy behind the UofA FC effort. This philosophy focuses on improving the classroom culture of engineering education. This is to be accomplished through teaming, course integration, and technology enabled classrooms. With this philosophy as a starting point, the paper discusses new course objectives, the course development process, and firstyear results. The course development process includes discussion of faculty input procedures, input from other FC campuses, and related experiences from the UofA FC freshman year. The paper describes four new courses that resulted from this development process. In conjunction with FC philosophy, these courses integrate mathematics and engineering, and introduce teaming and technology into the classroom. Results from the first year are discussed, including quantitative assessment, student journal comments, instructor impressions, and departmental reactions. Particular attention is paid to how the classroom is affected by team assignments and in-class computer use. Concluding comments include pros and cons of the new sophomore year, and plans for its refinement in the coming years.


  • Griffin, R.B., Everett, L.J., Lagoudas, D., 1997, “Development of a Sophomore Year Engineering Program at Texas A&M University,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Texas A&M University is a member of the Foundation Coalition. This program, funded by the National Science Foundation, has been working on the educational reform at Texas A&M and the other schools for four years. The Sophomore Team at Texas A&M University began working on the development of a series of engineering science courses in late fall of 1994. The first courses were taught in fall 1995. This paper will discuss the development of the courses and the institutionalization of them within the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University.

    The goals of the coalition are: active and collaborative learning, teaming, and the use of technology in the classroom.

    The Foundation Coalition sophomore engineering educational program was based on the above goals and the use of conservation principles to describe engineering systems. iv The five courses, the sequencing of the courses, and engineering areas covered are shown in the following table.

    An effort has been made to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. One measure was to examine the grade point ratios of students in the coalition and in the traditional program. Another is to use similar examination questions and compare the results. This has been done for three of the courses and the results will be presented and discussed. The assessment and evaluation area is important and considerably more work needs to be done. An assessment and evaluation plan will be described, and future plans for the coalition activities will be discussed.

  • Bester, K., Lee, T., Roboski, J., Richardson, J., Laurie, C., 1997, “What Do You Do When Your Students Want To Lead?,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Engineering students in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition (FC) program at the University of Alabama formed a Student Coalition Team “to help provide organization, communication, and support to the students of the Coalition.” The impetus for the formation of the Student Coalition Team came from students, not faculty. This paper describes the Student Coalition Team and explores how the structure of the Foundation Coalition program at the University of Alabama, primarily through enhanced studentstudent, faculty-student, and faculty-faculty interaction and communication, helped to create an environment which gave rise to the Student Coalition Team.


  • Pendergrass, N.A., Laoulache, R.N., Dowd, J.P., Kowalczyk, R.E., 1998, “Efficient Development and Implementation of an Integrated First Year Engineering Curriculum,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: In September 1998, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) began a pilot version of a fully integrated first year engineering curriculum totaling 31 credits. The new curriculum is cost-effective and has a high probability of successfully improving the learning of engineering freshmen as well as their retention.

    This paper outlines strategies that brought the new curriculum efficiently into being and helped to assure its success. Many of these were learned by studying work done in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition as well as at other schools. Where possible, we have built on the best work of those who have already developed successful, innovative teaching methods and curricula.

    The paper briefly outlines the courses and teaching methodology in the new integrated curriculum. It also describes the studio classroom and equipment that have been optimized for hands-on, technology-assisted learning.

  • Sathianathan, D., Sheppard, S., Jenison, R., Bilgutay, N.M., Demel, J.T., Gavankar, P., Lockledge, J., Mutharasan, R., Phillips, H., Poli, C., Richardson, J., 1998, “Freshman Design Projects: Lessons Learned in Engineering Coalitions,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: NSF established the Engineering Education Coalition programs for the purpose of creating systemic changes in engineering education. Coalitions are groups of institutions of higher learning who work collaboratively to achieve their coalition's mission. The first Coalition program was established in 1990. There are now eight Engineering Education Coalitions representing some 59 Universities (roughly 20% of all of the undergraduate institutions in the United States).

    Most coalitions have developed freshman design projects to increase the interest of new engineering students and to begin the integration of design across the curriculum. These activities are multi-week project approach, where students are engaged in hands-on experimental learning. The projects require that the members of the team must work together to complete the task. The multi-week projects dominate the course and the project theme motivates both the fixed and the flexible content covered during the course.

    This special session will discuss the various types of freshman design projects used and lessons learned by the Engineering Coalitions. Short presentations from the various coalitions will review what has been done and the lessons learned. The sessions will be interactive, involving the audience in the discussion of these lessons learned. A list of projects used in the coalitions along with a list of publications will be made available.

  • Lim, C., Metzger, R.P., Rodriguez, A.A., 1998, “Modeling, Simulation, Animation, and Real-Time Control (MoSART) Environments: Tools for Education and Research,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: This paper describes a set of Microsoft Windows '95/NT, Visual C++, Direct-3D based software environments for simulating and visualizing several different dynamical systems. Different simulation and animation models may be selected by the user for each environment. Users are also able to alter model and controller parameters "on the fly" - thus allowing them to quickly examine different scenarios. The environments take advantage of Direct-3D to produce high-quality three-dimensional real-time animated graphical models of the systems. Real-time plotting and graphical indicators are also employed to help users abstract-out key phenomena. The environments also accommodate data exchange with MATLAB. Users may readily export simulation data to MATLAB and use the associated toolboxes for post-processing and further analysis. The MoSART environments are valuable tools for enhancing both education and research. Examples are presented to illustrate their utility.


  • Pendergrass, N.A., Kowalczyk, R.E., Dowd, J.P., Laoulache, R.N., Nelles, W., Golen, J.A., Fowler, E., 1999, “Improving First-year Engineering Education,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) began a successful, thirty-one credit, integrated first-year engineering curriculum in September 1998. The program was modeled after many of the most effective and innovative programs in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition as well as from other universities and colleges. The new program at UMD includes

    1) integrating the introductory sequences in physics, calculus, chemistry, English and engineering

    2) teaching and using teamwork among students and faculty

    3) using a specially designed technology oriented classroom

    4) using active and cooperative learning methods

    5) encouraging formation of a community of students by block-scheduling classes and grouping students in the dorms

    6) reducing the cost of delivering courses by making more efficient use of instructional time

    7) using careful assessment to evaluate performance.

    This paper describes the new curriculum, some of the practical considerations in its design, and the way it has functioned. It will also give a detailed snapshot of assessment results after one semester of operation. Additional assessment data on the second semester will be provided in the presentation and upon request.

  • Dowd, J.P., Laoulache, R.N., Pendergrass, N.A., 1999, “Project IMPULSE: Teaching Physics in an Integrated Studio Based Curriculum for Freshman Engineering Majors,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.


  • Pendergrass, N.A., Laoulache, R.N., Fortier, P.J., 2000, “Mainstreaming an Innovative 31-Credit Curriculum for First-Year Engineering Majors,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: In September of 1998, the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth piloted an innovative, integrated, first-year curriculum that dramatically changed 31 credits across two semesters. Preliminary assessment data was very encouraging after the first semester of operation and the team started an effort to adopt it. A storm of intense resistance and controversy erupted, however, catching nearly everyone by surprise. Argument, rational and seemingly irrational, threatened to eclipse the benefits of the new program and could have easily led to its termination.

    In retrospect, the nature of the controversy and opposition was predictable. With earlier understanding of responses, adoption would still have been resisted and people would have disagreed but the team would have been better able to respond productively.

    This paper will present the story of the adoption of the IMPULSE program so that others can learn from our experiences. It will focus on the process that led to rapid adoption of the new curriculum and will point out important steps and pitfalls.

    The paper will include discussion of the important, and predictable, human reactions that were seen. We could not make progress until these were appreciated. Human reactions had to be understood and worked with. We hope that our experiences will encourage and help others to become more aware of the human factors that often dominate change processes.


  • Courter, S.S., Lewis, D., Reeves, J., Eapen, J., Murugesan, N., Sebald, D., 2001, “Aligning Foundation Coalition Core Competencies and Professional Development Opportunities: A University of Wisconsin-Madision Case Study in Preparing a New Generation of Engineers,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Faculty within the Foundation Coalition (FC) are working together to prepare a new generation of engineers by strengthening both undergraduate and graduate students’ educational foundations and helping them develop core competencies. The coalition links together six institutions: Arizona State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Texas A & M University, University of Alabama, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth. Partner institutions are diverse in terms of size, age, public/private, student body characteristics, and experience in educational reform, but all share a commitment to the improvement of engineering education. With the goal of student learning in mind, the Foundation Coalition defines core competencies to be the abilities that educators must develop, continuously improve, and use in order to “create a new culture of engineering education that is responsive to technological changes and societal needs” – the FC vision. The core competencies are curriculum integration; cooperative and active learning; utilization of technology-enabled learning; assessment-driven continuous improvement; recruitment, retention, and graduation of women and under-represented minorities; teamwork and collaboration; and management of change. The University of Wisconsin-Madison helps faculty, staff, and teaching assistants develop and use these core competencies in myriad ways.

    This paper describes two professional development opportunities at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, College of Engineering: the New Educators’ Orientation (NEO) and the Teaching Improvement Program (TIP). While NEO introduces the core competencies, each TIP workshop incorporates one or more of the FC competencies. The program director and graduate student cochairs use the competencies to guide workshop selection and design. This paper traces the development of both NEO and TIP; the incorporation of the FC core competencies, vision, mission, student outcomes, and objectives; the impact on curricula as reported on evaluations; lessons learned; and plans for future professional development opportunities. Four case studies illustrate how graduate students, the next generation of engineers, develop the core competencies through professional development opportunities including TIP and NEO.

  • Pendergrass, N.A., Laoulache, R.N., Fowler, E., 2001, “Can an Integrated First-Year Program Continue to Work as Well After the Novelty Has Worn Off?,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) began a successful, integrated, first year engineering curriculum in September 1998. This new program dramatically changed the freshman year and was initially very successful. Data from the first year pilot program was very positive. Assessment showed that it

    1) more than halved the attrition rate of first-year engineering students

    2) nearly doubled the percentage of students passing two semesters of physics on schedule

    3) increased the percentage of students passing calculus on schedule by 40%

    4) increased performance of students on common final exams in calculus by more than a grade point and a half, despite having a significantly higher percentage of students actually take the final.

    By September 1999, the new curriculum had become the required program for approximately 80% of first-year engineering majors at UMD. Expansion produced some unexpected challenges and the paper will show assessment data indicating both positive and negative changes in performance in various aspects of the program. We will give insight into the problems and opportunities that developed as the program grew. We will also describe how assessment provided feedback to help decision making.

  • Midkiff, C., Litzinger, T.A., Evans, D.L., 2001, “Development of Engineering Thermodynamics Concept Inventory Instruments,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Preliminary instruments for the assessment of undergraduate engineering student understanding of fundamental thermodynamics concept are presented. The Thermodynamics Concept Inventory (TCI) instruments are patterned after the existing Force Concept Inventory (FCI) instruments. Numerous studies have supported the efficacy of pre- and post-course administration of the FCI as a means of assessing the effectiveness of educational reform activities. The objective of the work reported here is to develop similar instruments for the assessment of engineering thermodynamics. Like the FCI, the Thermodynamics Concepts Inventory (TCI) instruments should be brief, require minimal or no computation, should produce repeatable results across broad, diverse student populations, and should succinctly assess student understanding of fundamental thermodynamics concepts. The availability of such TCI instruments will allow faculty to compare the pre- and post-course performances of a class, to compare the performance of their class to that of classes at other institutions, and to evaluate the effectiveness of educational reform efforts. Although the preliminary (“beta”) versions of the TCI reported here are aimed at mechanical engineering students, they should be suitable for use in other engineering disciplines with slight modification. In mechanical engineering, it is common to teach thermodynamics in a two-semester sequence of courses. Consequently, two versions of the TCI are presented, an introductory version and a more advanced version for second-semester students. Sample questions from the TCI instruments are exhibited here, and results of preliminary testing of the inventory on small student populations are discussed. Beta versions of the TCI are available at the FIE conference. The authors are seeking interested faculty to conduct beta tests during the 2001-2002 academic year.

  • Pendergrass, N.A., Kowalczyk, R.E., Dowd, J.P., Laoulache, R.N., Nelles, W., Golen, J.A., Fowler, E., 2001, “Improving First-Year Engineering Education,” Journal of Engineering Education, 90:1, 33-41.

    Abstract: The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) began a successful, thirty-one credit, integrated first-year engineering curriculum in September 1998. The program was modeled after many of the most effective and innovative programs in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition as well as from other universities and colleges. The new program at UMD includes

    1) integrating the introductory sequences in physics, calculus, chemistry, English and engineering

    2) teaching and using teamwork among students and faculty

    3) using a specially designed technology oriented classroom

    4) using active and cooperative learning methods

    5) encouraging formation of a community of students by block-scheduling classes and grouping students in the dorms

    6) reducing the cost of delivering courses by making more efficient use of instructional time

    7) using careful assessment to evaluate performance.

    This paper describes the new curriculum, some of the practical considerations in its design, and the way it has functioned. It will also give a detailed snapshot of assessment results after one semester of operation. Additional assessment data on the second semester will be provided in the presentation and upon request.


  • Ledlow, S., White-Taylor, J., Evans, D.L., 2002, “Active/Cooperative Learning: A Discipline-Specific Resource for Engineering Education,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: While general information on the use of active/cooperative learning (A/CL) in higher education is increasing, discipline-specific resources, especially materials for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, are still relatively rare. A frequent comment from engineering faculty who don’t use active/cooperative learning is that they don’t understand how this form of pedagogy and classroom management strategies can apply to their subject or to their classroom. Too often these strategies are brushed off with comments about them only applying to the “softer” subjects taught on the “other side of campus” – but certainly not to the rigorous and complex technical subjects of engineering.

    Reported in this paper is information on Active/Cooperative Learning: Best Practices in Engineering Education, an online repository of engineering-specific ideas, testimonials, and teaching strategies to stimulate and aid faculty in trying and adopting a different look, feel and performance for the classroom. While the project does contain some general information on A/CL, the bulk of the content is specific to engineering education, and was derived from interviews with engineering faculty on multiple campuses. Materials are organized so that they will serve as a useful guide to faculty who have never used cooperative learning, but will also provide sufficient depth that more experienced faculty and faculty developers may benefit from them as well. The CD contains essentially the same content as the website, but will be provided to those whose Internet connections will not easily access large video or audio files.

  • Wheeler, E., Grigg, C., Chambers, Z., Layton, R.A., 2002, “Effective Practices in the Electrical Systems Service Course,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: There is a national need to improve the electrical systems service courses taken by mechanical engineering (ME) students. The systems that engineers work with are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary. Engineers, particularly team leaders and engineering managers, are finding it increasingly important to acquire some technical competence outside their core disciplines. Product design and development is coming to be viewed not as an assortment of problems in mechanics, electronics, hydraulics, and so forth, but as a systems problem, requiring a systems perspective. The automobile industry is only one example of an industry where this trend can be readily identified. Thus, knowledge of electrical systems is an integral part of every mechanical engineer's background, and it follows that electrical systems service courses are an integral part of mechanical engineering curricula.

    Those who teach these courses know that the problems are not primarily ones regarding content but rather of delivery. The very real problems that can appear in these service courses are often due to a lack of motivation or interest on the part of students, a classroom/laboratory design that does not meet the discipline-specific needs of the students, and a learning environment lacking tools that encourage students to come to class prepared and that permit them to study effectively outside of class. We focus on the role that the course plays in the ME curriculum and the benefits it offers in the ME students' education.

    Motivating students and engaging their interest is vital to the success of any course. These courses, however, often fail to interest or motivate students and many times do not meet their primary objective of enabling students to use the principles of electrical systems in their chosen discipline. This is partly because material is offered to the mechanical engineering student from the perspective of an electrical engineer. From the students' viewpoint, these service courses become a collection of unrelated topics with little relevance to their interests. Mechanical engineering departments must work with electrical and computer engineering (ECE) departments to improve these courses and to help ensure that the needs of ME students are met. ME departments can take steps to ensure that students come to these classes motivated and engaged. They can help faculty from ECE choose relevant topics that interest ME students.

    In this paper, we describe steps being taken at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to address these issues. This is an ongoing project and course design will likely undergo significant modifications over the next 2-4 years. We report here the steps taken to date and our present plans. We begin with some background information, follow with course and curriculum design considerations, and conclude with our plans for assessment.

  • Layne, J., Froyd, J.E., Morgan, J.R., Kenimer, A.L., 2002, “Faculty Learning Communities,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Professional development for teaching frequently focuses on methodology and strategy. Information and opportunities to practice techniques are often offered in onetime, interactive workshops. However, one-shot faculty development opportunities are not designed to address a critical element of the faculty role in the learning/teaching dynamic—individual beliefs, experiences, and research regarding learning.

    Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) is a collaborative initiative at Texas A&M University in which interdisciplinary groups of participants examine learning. The format includes ninety-minute weekly meetings over an academic year, recommended readings on learning, reflective journaling, and individual and collaborative tasks. FLC provides an opportunity to explore learning from multiple perspectives. This process validates what participants know, while supporting the development of a common language and theoretical foundation from which to dialogue. The sustained nature of the interaction provides an increased sense of connectedness and community. Through participation in FLC, faculty members draw ideas, energy and perspective from their exchange that they incorporate into their thinking about, and practice of, learning and teaching.

  • Penrod, L., Talley, D., Froyd, J.E., Caso, R., Lagoudas, D., Kohutek, T., 2002, “Integrating "Smart" Materials Into a First-Year Engineering Curriculum: A Case Study,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Developments in materials science are creating new possibilities for engineering designs. For example, multifunctional materials, such as shape memory alloys (SMA) or piezoelectric materials are referred to as “smart” materials since designers can use properties of these materials to construct components of adaptive mechanisms. For example, researchers are using shape memory alloys (SMA) to build biomimetic systems that mimic the behavior of biological organisms such as fish or insects. The ability of SMA components to change shape in response to thermal or electrical stimuli considerably simplifies construction of biomimetic systems. As multifunctional materials are changing the practice of engineering, providing undergraduate students with exposure and experiences with these materials and their potential for new design options should be seriously explored.

    The proposed paper presents a narrative description of how material on SMA was integrated into a first-year engineering course and a first-year engineering project. Key partners, including an undergraduate engineering student working on a research experience and a first-year graduate student, will describe their roles in integrating material into a first-year engineering course that was taught in Fall 2001. Also, data describing the impact on students and faculty will be presented.

  • Mayhew, J.E., Layton, R.A., 2002, “Killing Two Birds with One Data Acquisition System,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: An open-circuit wind tunnel is upgraded by adding a commercially-available data acquisition system used to teach students some basic concepts of data acquisition, instrumentation, calibration, and assessment of results. Student teams were given 30-60 minutes of hands-on instruction on how to acquire data using the system. Eight student teams participated over two quarters, performing calibrations of the load cells and angle-of-attack indicator, using the results of those calibrations to find the lift and drag of a model wing, and assessing whether the calibrations and confidence intervals found by the earlier teams were reliable. All teams served as “contractors” for us, helping us improve the quality of our wind tunnel while they learned. Key results for our students: learning how to set up and use a simple data acquisition system; making us aware of sources of uncertainty in the lift and drag measurements of our wind tunnel; learning when collecting more data helps decrease uncertainty and when it does not; and gaining experience in meeting our needs as customers. In our opinion, the project is readily implemented by an individual instructor or two and should be considered intermediate-level instruction in instrumentation and data acquisition, appropriate for implementation at the junior or senior level.

  • Morgan, J.R., Kenimer, A.L., Kohutek, T., Rinehart, J., Lee, M., 2002, “Peer Teacher From an Instructor's Perspective,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Following a pilot program during the 2000-2001 academic year, the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University placed a peer teacher in every section of every first-year engineering course starting in fall 2001. Seven upper division “peer teachers” were assigned to eight of the first year engineering learning communities. The peer teachers were part of a teaching team: 1 problem-solving faculty; 1 graphics faculty; 1 graduate teaching assistant; and 1 undergraduate peer teacher. The peer teachers attended the engineering class; offered academic support two evenings a week on calculus, physics, chemistry and engineering; and served as mentors and guides for the first year students in their particular community/ course cluster.

    The pilot program was successful in improving the overall section GPA (2.85 with peer teacher and 2.61 without peer teachers). There was also a positive, significant difference in how the students interacted with the faculty, graduate teaching assistants, and their team members.

    Although the peer teachers are only part of a larger effort (including more active learning, use of teams and technology, course clustering, etc.), it is clear that they have contributed greatly to the success of our students. This paper will present the implementation of the program and evidence of its success.


  • Leland, R., 2003, “A Teaching Module for the Nyquist Stability Test Using Cooperative Learning,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: We describe a three-class instructional module using cooperative learning to teach the Nyquist stability criterion in an undergraduate controls class. This effort brings modern educational methods, specifically cooperative learning, into a mainstream engineering course. The Nyquist criterion was selected since it is typically the most difficult topic for students in control systems. The module consists of PowerPoint slides for the lectures, an instructor’s guide, in-class group exercises, and home assignments. The module was assessed by instructor observations, a post-module quiz, student questionnaires and comparison of student exam performance with previous classes.

  • Kenimer, A.L., Lacey, R., 2003, “Teaming Freshmen with Seniors in Design,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: The Department of Biological and Agriculturual Engineering at Texas A&M University offers design-focused courses for freshman and senior engineering students. The senior-level courses constitute the curriculum’s capstone design experience. Seniors work in teams of three or four on a design project suggested by industry clients. Many of these same projects are used in the freshman-level course. These projects are used to introduce freshmen and lower-division transfer students to the engineering design process and to illustrate job possibilities available to program graduates. A unique aspect of the freshman and senior design courses, and the focus of this paper, is the inclusion of seniors in the freshman design teams. These seniors assume the role of “senior leader” and serve as managers and mentors. As managers, senior leaders answer questions that the freshmen may have about their design projects or the design process. Senior leaders also facilitate group discussions and act as mediators during times of team turbulence. Finally, senior leaders provide a weekly performance evaluation for each of their freshman team members. Beyond their management responsibilities, many senior leaders provide mentoring to the freshmen in their teams. Senior leaders provide freshmen with information about instructors, summer internship opportunities, departmental laboratory and computer resources, and student clubs, among other topics.

    Placement of senior leaders in freshman design teams yields numerous benefits. Seniors get an opportunity to obtain management experience before graduation. Freshmen get an opportunity to meet others in their major and to receive much greater mentoring than can be provided through traditional instructor/student contact.

    This paper describes the process through which senior/freshman teaming is achieved in these courses. In addition, the paper explores freshman, senior, and instructor reactions to the program.


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