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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.

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  • Pollock, T.C., 1992, “TAMU/NSF Engineering Core Curriculum Course 2: Properties of Matter,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Parker, J.K., Cordes, D., Richardson, J., 1995, “Engineering Design in the Freshman Year at The University of Alabama - Foundation Coalition Program,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: A pair of courses, GES 131 & 132 (Foundations of Engineering I & II), form the two semester engineering component of Foundation Coalition's integrated freshman year at The University of Alabama. These courses replace two existing freshman engineering courses which are devoted to computer programming (FORTRAN) and engineering graphics. In order to present a more realistic and interesting introduction to engineering as a profession, the courses focuses on the engineering design process.

    Both courses are organized around four three-week long "design" projects. The projects are selected from a variety of areas, covering the breadth of engineering disciplines taught at UA. The design projects also complement the current subject matter of the integrated math, chemistry, and physics courses. For example, while both physics and chemistry are introducing the ideal gas law, the engineering project involves the design of a CNG (compressed natural gas) tank for an automotive application. Each design project requires a team report, in written and (sometimes) oral form. The students are introduced to a variety of computer tools to aid their presentation of reports, such as word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation packages. Student access to the Internet (for data collection) and e-mail (for communication) is also provided.

    This paper provides an in-depth examination of the first of these two courses. It includes a brief overview of the relationships that exist between the integrated courses in the freshman year, a detailed examination of the nature and scope of the design projects included within the course, and feedback from both faculty and students on the merits of the approach.

  • 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.


  • Cordes, D., Parrish, A., 1996, “Active Learning in Technical Courses,” Proceedings of the National Educational Computing Conference.

    Abstract: The University of Alabama is one of seven schools participating in the Foundation Coalition, an NSF-sponsored partnership looking at educational reform within the undergraduate engineering curriculum. In addition to active involvement in the Foundation Coalition, the Department has re-structured several of its own undergraduate courses around the lines of cooperative learning and technology-enabled education. This includes the re-design of classrooms as well as a shift in focus from a traditional lecture to more of an “active learning” environment.

  • Parker, J.K., Midkiff, C., Kavanaugh, S., 1996, “Capstone Design at the University of Alabama,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The mechanical engineering program at the University of Alabama has had a two-course capstone design sequence (the Design Clinic) since the late 1970's. Although several changes have been incorporated over the years, the use of external industrysponsored projects has remained a constant. Students participate in a common, competitive design project during the first two-thirds of the first course (ME 489). During the last third of the first course and the entire second course (ME 490), each team of three or four students works on a single, extended external project. This paper focuses on the extended design activity.

    The overall organization of the course sequence and projects, including faculty support options and the process used to select student project teams, is outlined. We describe our various sources of projects, along with some of the possible advantages and disadvantages of each. Financial considerations for the course sequence and the impact of finances on project selection are also covered.

    Finally, brief descriptions of several recent projects are given. Interested faculty members should be able to use these suggestions in the development of their own senior design courses.

  • Parker, J.K., Richardson, J., Cordes, D., 1996, “Problem Solving and Design in the Freshman Year: The Foundation Coalition,” Proceedings of the ASEE Southeastern Section Conference.

    Abstract: A pair of courses, GES 131 and 132, form the two semester engineering component of the Foundation Coalition's integrated freshman year at The University of Alabama. The courses use engineering design and problem solving processes to present a more realistic, interesting, and useful introduction to engineering. The overall goals of the Foundation Coalition (curriculum integration, teaming & active learning, technology enabled education) are introduced and developed within the overall framework of problem solving and design.

    Each course is organized around several four-weeklong “design projects” that are integrated with current topical material from the mathematics, chemistry, and physics courses. The design projects give students a taste of “real-world” engineering and develop the students’ problem-solving skills. Students use teaming, active learning, and technology extensively in these courses. Details about specific exercises and common student problems are discussed in the paper.

  • Richardson, J., Parker, J.K., Cordes, D., 1996, “The Foundation Coalition Freshman Year: Lessons Learned,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Three years ago, mathematics, science, and engineering faculty at the University of Alabama (UA) designed a new set of freshmen courses which integrate science and engineering topics, promote active learning, and incorporate computer tools. The new courses have now gone through two cycles (1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years). The original goals of the new courses are presented followed by discussions of some of the advantages and disadvantages of the approaches.


  • Cordes, D., Parrish, A., Dixon, B., Borie, R., Jackson, J., Gaughan, P., 1997, “An Integrated First-Year Curriculum for Computer Science and Computer Engineering,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The University of Alabama is an active participant in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition, a partnership of seven institutions who are actively involved in fundamental reform of undergraduate engineering education. As part of this effort, the University of Alabama has developed an integrated first-year curriculum for engineering students. This curriculum consists primarily of an integrated block of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering design. The engineering design course is used as the anchor that ties the other disciplines together.

    While this curriculum is highly appropriate (and successful) for most engineering majors, it does not meet the needs of a computer engineering (or computer science) major nearly as well. Recognizing this, the Departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering recently received funding under NSF’s Course and Curriculum Development Program to generate an integrated introduction to the discipline of computing.

    The revised curriculum provides a five-hour block of instruction (each semester) in computer hardware, software development, and discrete mathematics. At the end of this three-semester sequence, students will have completed the equivalent of CS I and CS II, a digital logic course, an introductory sequence in computer organization and assembly language, and a discrete mathematics course.

    The revised curriculum presents these same materials in an integrated block of instruction. As one simple example, the instruction of basic data types in the software course (encountered early in the freshman year) is accompanied by machine representation of numbers (signed binary, one and two’s complement) in the hardware course, and by arithmetic in different bases in the discrete mathematics course. It also integrates cleanly with the Foundation Coalition’s freshman year, and provides a block of instruction that focuses directly upon the discipline of computing.

  • Richardson, J., Parker, J.K., 1997, “Engineering Education in the 21st Century: Beyond Lectures,” Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Education.

    Abstract: The authors' experience with an experimental freshman engineering program at the University of Alabama points to new roles for engineering educators. The program, part of the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition, emphasizes curriculum integration and team work. The most striking result of the program is the attitude of the students at the end of the freshman year. Compared to students in the traditional curriculum, students from the experimental program take more responsibility for learning and work considerably harder.


  • Cordes, D., Parrish, A., Dixon, B., Borie, R., Jackson, J., Hale, D., Hale, J., Sharpe, S., 1998, “An Inter-Disciplinary Software Engineering Track Emphasizing Component Engineering,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: This paper describes the establishment of an integrated track in software engineering for three distinct academic disciplines at the University of Alabama: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Management Information Systems. This integrated track focuses on component engineering, and is being developed by a team of faculty from all three programs.

  • 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.

  • Richardson, J., Corleto, C.R., Froyd, J.E., Imbrie, P.K., Parker, J.K., Roedel, R.J., 1998, “Freshman Design Projects in the Foundation Coalition,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Many talented engineering students abandon engineering before taking a single engineering course. Herded into large sections of “pre-engineering” mathematics, chemistry and physics courses, many students prove themselves academically but walk away from engineering, disillusioned. Numerous schools have instituted freshmen engineering courses to retain some of these capable but disinterested students in the engineering program. Freshman engineering courses spark students’ interest by showing students that engineers communicate, lead, and create as well as analyze. One of the most successful ways of showing first-year students the diversity of skills needed to practice engineering is through freshman design projects.

    The authors have each selected three of their favorite freshman design projects (a total of fifteen projects) and posted detailed descriptions on the web ( For those interested in learning a little background about the freshman programs in which these projects were used, please read on. This paper provides: a brief description of the freshman programs at each school (the schools are participants in the NSF-sponsored Foundation Coalition), short summaries of each project, and answers to frequently asked questions about freshman design projects.

  • 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.

  • Cordes, D., Parrish, A., Dixon, B., Pimmel, R.L., Jackson, J., Borie, R., 1998, “Teaching an Integrated First-Year Computing Curriculum: Lessons Learned,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: This paper describes an integrated first year curriculum in computing for Computer Science and Computer Engineering students at the University of Alabama. The curriculum is built around the basic thrusts of the Foundation Coalition, and provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of computing for both majors.


  • 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.


  • Fowler, E., Sims-Knight, J.E., Pendergrass, N.A., Upchurch, R.L., 2000, “Course-based Assessment: Engaging Faculty in Reflective Practice,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The College of Engineering (COE) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has begun to implement course-based assessment as part of our curricular continuous improvement program. The targeted faculty are those who are developing innovative courses supported by the Foundation Coalition (FC), a collaborative project funded by National Science Foundation. We began in Spring, 1999, and have since tried five different strategies—taking faculty to a two-day assessment workshop, a general lecture on embedding an assessment-based continuous improvement loop into courses, a written set of guidelines, individual meetings with faculty, and an interactive half-day workshop. We discovered that faculty accept and implement assessment-based continuous improvement in their classes once they understand that (a) it is in their control, (b) it can be done in ways that are cost-effective in terms of time, and (c) that it can reduce frustration in teaching because it makes visible aspects of courses that can be improved.

  • Froyd, J.E., Penberthy, D., Watson, K.L., 2000, “Good Educational Experiments are not Necessarily Good Change Processes,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Design, problem solving, and scientific discovery are examples of important processes for which engineers and scientists have developed exemplary process models, i.e., a set of widely accepted procedures by which these functions may best be accomplished. However, undergraduate curriculum transformation in engineering, that is, systemic change in pedagogy, content, and/or course structure, lacks a widely recognized process model. In other words, engineering faculty members do not widely and explicitly agree upon a set of assumptions and flow diagrams for initiating, sustaining and integrating curriculum improvement. The two-loop model that is described in conjunction with the EC2000 criterion ( provides a flow diagram that integrates assessment, evaluation and feedback processes. However, the two-loop model does not provide a set of assumptions and flow diagrams for quantum actual change or improvement. To initiate discussion of models for the curriculum change process, hereafter referred to as change models, this paper examines three change models and advocates the organizational change model.

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • Pimmel, R.L., 2001, “Cooperative Learning Instructional Activities in a Capstone Design Course,” Journal of Engineering Education, 90:3, 413-421.

    Abstract: In developing our capstone design course, we decided to include instruction in design methodology, project management, engineering communications, and professional ethics, along with a comprehensive design project. As this course evolved over a number of years, we found that active and cooperative learning was critical for effective instruction in these topics and we developed a series of instructional activities using this methodology. These activities consisted of short presentations (mini-lectures) with interspersed team exercises. We describe our course, these instructional activities, and some evaluation data showing that our students found them effective and important. Our experiences convinced us that the cooperative learning approach both enhanced our students' understanding of these topics and encouraged them to incorporate the associated skills into their working skill set. Including team exercises that dealt with various steps in the design process provided a "jump-start" on these unfamiliar activities in a structured, short duration exercise environment in class. Listening to presentations by other teams and reviewing and discussing another team's results as a part of the team exercises provided an opportunity to see and think about different formulations of the problem they just considered.

  • 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.

  • Parker, J.K., 2001, “Symbolic Algebra in Dynamic Systems and Control Classes,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: Large sets of symbolic simultaneous linear equations occur frequently in the types of problems found in system dynamics and control courses. Students often have difficulty with algebraic manipulation of several symbolic equations. Three example problems (finding state variable equations for an electric circuit, developing transfer functions from sets of state variable equations, and block diagram reduction) show how symbolic algebra can be used to reduce tedious algebraic manipulation in system dynamics and control courses.


  • Pawley, A.L., 2002, “"Designs Not Considered": the limitations of using retention as an indicator of diversity in engineering education,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: The engineering population’s homogeneity is a matter for widespread concern. Engineering students and faculty still tend to be white, male, middle-to-upper class, or all three, and this poses a distinct disadvantage to engineering as an academic discipline and as a profession. William Wulf, current president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), addressed the need for diversity in engineering in his 1998 address to the NAE annual meeting, saying that “in any creative profession, what comes out is a function of the life experiences of those who do it.” He points out that “Sans diversity, we limit the set of life experiences that are applied, and as a result, we pay an opportunity cost.” That cost, he argues, takes the form of “products not built…designs not considered… constraints not understood,… [and] processes not invented.”

    Engineering educators, administrators, and funding agencies have demonstrated their concern in improving diversity in a variety of ways. Engineering programs at colleges and universities across the nation have set up special offices dedicated to improving the diversity of their student bodies, special courses are designed to promote diversity in engineering by creating support networks for underrepresented students, dozens of books and articles are published every year on how and why to improve the diversity of engineering student and faculty bodies, national funding agencies support programs aimed at improving diversity, and even conference divisions are dedicated to studying aspects of diversity in engineering.

    Simultaneously, however, even though we may recognize the need for a more inclusive and varied population of engineers, the general understanding of “diversity” still appears severely restricted. One measure of diversity dominates most remediation efforts: the retention of women and underrepresented minorities in academic engineering programs. In fact, this measure has become transformed into such a standard definition of diversity that we have lost sight of its limitations, and we ignore the ways in which its use may actually undermine many of our wellintentioned efforts to improve diversity in engineering. The phrase “women and underrepresented minorities” has been naturalized into a surrogate for diversity. This naturalization carries three particular problems in its wake: 1) the number of women and minorities graduating has become the end goal rather than one step in the quest for different perspectives; 2) the use of retention limits who "counts" as being able to provide different perspectives, and, most importantly; 3) within an institution set up and maintained by and for white, affluent men, using retention as a measure of diversity does not necessarily persuade us to create a space for those different perspectives to actually be heard.

  • Stern, H.P., Pimmel, R.L., 2002, “An Instructional Module for Engineering Ethics,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: This paper describes a short (3 class-hour) module developed to teach engineering ethics. The module has been designed for simple integration into a standard technical course, minimally impacting existing curricula and effectively introducing the need for engineering ethics, the key components in an engineering code of ethics, and resources for help in resolving ethical conflicts. Case studies are used, showing directly how certain ethical issues relate to the practice of engineering and prompting lively in-class discussions. Using cooperative and active learning techniques, the class develops its own code of engineering ethics and compares their code to the professional society codes within their discipline. Test data shows that after taking the module, students are more capable of stating the key components of an engineering code of ethics and are more knowledgeable concerning resources available for resolving ethical dilemmas. Testing also shows that the students have a high awareness of the issues involved in engineering ethics and that, after taking the module, they are significantly more confident concerning their ability to address ethical conflicts in their future professional practice.

  • Powers, T.A., Sims-Knight, J.E., Topciu, R.A., Haden, S.C., 2002, “Assessing Team Functionality in Engineering Education,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: The present study used a series of team process checks modeled on those developed at Arizona State University to assess team functioning. Team members completed these forms individually and then collectively the members assessed the team as a whole. These process checks were compared to faculty ratings of the teams. The students’ individual knowledge about teaming skills was also assessed and the relationship of these various measures to performance was examined. Two distinct dimensions of team functioning appear to be measured by the team process check: agency and affiliation. The process checks were positively correlated with faculty ratings, and the agency dimension of the scale predicted team project scores in one of the classes evaluated but not in the other two.

  • Pimmel, R.L., , ., Stern, H.P., 2002, “Changes in Student Confidence Resulting from Instruction with Modules on EC 2000 Skills,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: EC 2000 requires that engineering programs demonstrate that their graduates have acquired the set of skills identified in Criteria 3 (a)-(k). Because of a scarcity of instructional material on many of these topics, a team of engineering faculty members developed a set of short modules for teaching several of them. The modules, which contain learning objectives, a justification, student exercises and assignments, and an instructor’s guide, require three 50-minute class periods and can be integrated into a standard engineering course. We tested each module in a classroom setting with a diverse group of engineering students. Using before and after module surveys, the students indicated their agreement with statements concerning their confidence in their ability to do specific tasks derived from the module’s learning objectives using a five-point scale (1 for “Strongly Disagree” to 5 for “Strongly Agree”). We also obtained analogous data with a control group not involved in the instruction. In 13 of the 15 modules, the data showed an improvement in the students’ confidence to perform these tasks as a result of the instruction. The average improvement was approximately 0.50, indicating that, on the average, one-half of the students indicated an increase in their confidence to do these tasks.

  • Pimmel, R.L., Karr, C.L., Todd, B.A., 2002, “Instructional Modules for Teaching Written, Oral, and Graphical Communication Skills to Engineering Students,” Proceedings of the ASEE Southeastern Section Conference, Gainesville,= FL, April 2002.

    Abstract: EC 2000 requires that engineering students learn and demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively, which in an engineering environment implies oral, written, and graphical communication skills. The already overcrowded curriculum and pedagogical considerations make adding communications courses unacceptable. We prepared three short instructional modules suitable for teaching these skills in any engineering course as a part of a more extensive program to develop instructional modules in several EC 2000 skill areas. Each module uses three 50-minute classes and relies on active-cooperative learning strategies and Internet-based resources. Instructional material includes PowerPoint slides, in-class team activities, homework assignments, and an instructor guide. We have tested each module in an evaluation program where a faculty member who did not develop the module taught it to approximately ten students. These data showed improvement in the students' confidence in their ability to complete tasks identified in the module's learning objectives. They also indicated that the learning objectives were clear and supported by the material; that the justifications were clear and convincing; and that the lecture material, team activities, and assignments were appropriate.

  • 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.

  • Pimmel, R.L., 2002, “Preferred Learning Activites,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: In this study, we utilized end-of-the-semester survey data in which students ranked nine learning activities “in order of their importance in helping a student do well in this course”. The activities were: attending lectures, reading the text, reading the objectives, doing homework, doing homework in study groups, attending evening reviews, completing lab assignments, doing inclass exercises, doing in-class exercises in groups. In a second part of the survey, students also indicated the fraction of the lectures they attended, the fraction of the homework they completed, the fraction of the homework they completed in groups, and the fraction of the reading they completed, and how often they read the objectives. These data showed that the students valued and used the lectures and homework and that they devalued and did not use the text and objectives. The study suggested that some students did not respond to the modern instructional methodology tools (e.g., learning objectives, group homework, and active/cooperative learning exercises). It also suggested that these courses contained at least two subpopulations – those that rely on lectures and homework (listening and doing) and those that rely on the text and objectives (reading and thinking).

  • Todd, B.A., Brown, M.A., Pimmel, R.L., Richardson, J., 2002, “Short Instructional Modules for Lifelong Learning, Project Management, Teaming, and Time Management,” Proceedings of the ASEE Southeastern Section Conference, Gainesville FL, April 2002.

    Abstract: Criteria 3 of ABET 2000 includes professional skills that have not traditionally been explicitly taught in undergraduate engineering programs. In addition, the criterion related to "modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice" provides for the instruction of a wide range of topics that are useful for the young engineer. Engineering faculty have limited experience and resources on teaching professional skills. Most engineering programs do not have the luxury of adding a professional skills course to their already overcrowded curriculum. Therefore, a suite of modules has been developed for the professional skills of lifelong learning, project management, teaming, and time management. Each module has been designed to fit within three 50-minute class periods in a standard course and includes bridge material to transition back to the original course. Each module was beta-tested by another instructor with a multidisciplinary group of student evaluators. The beta testing was done as a highly controlled stand-alone experience instead of part of a regular class. Many of these modules have not yet been used in the traditional classroom. Overall, the students had a positive reaction to each of the modules. Details of each of the modules and specific resluts of the beta testing are included in the paper. While the modules are still undergoing improvement, they are at a stage where they can be used by other faculty. Thus, the modules are available at

  • Pimmel, R.L., , ., Stern, H.P., 2002, “Student Evaluation of Instructional Modules on EC 2000 Criteria 3 (a) - (k) Skills,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: A team of engineering faculty members has developed a set of fifteen instructional modules for teaching several skills identified in EC 2000 Criteria 3 (a)-(k). Module developers designed them for a week of classes in upper-level engineering courses and incorporated active/cooperative learning and web-based resources. In addition to the standard instructional material, each module contained learning objectives, a justification, student exercises and assignments, and an instructor’s guide discussing the use of the material and the grading of student work. To determine students’ reaction to these modules, we had instructors, who were not the module developers, teach them to a class of engineering students. The students completed extensive evaluation forms, including a series of questions where they indicated their agreement with a set of positively oriented statements on the material using a five-point scale (1 – “Strongly Disagree” to 5 – “Strongly Agree”). These data indicated a positive student reaction to the instructional material. For example, the overall average scores on the statements about the learning objectives, justification, teaming activities, and homework were 4.1, 4.2, 3.9, and 3.9, respectively. The two modules with the highest overall average scores dealt with ethics (4.4) and oral communications (4.4); the two with the lowest overall average scores dealt with lifelong learning (3.6) and contemporary issues (3.7).

  • Sims-Knight, J.E., Upchurch, R.L., Powers, T.A., Haden, S.C., Topciu, R.A., 2002, “Teams in Software Engineering Education,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The ability to work as an effective member of a development team is a primary goal of engineering education and one of the ABET student learning outcomes. As such, teaming has received increased attention in both the classroom and the literature over the past several years. Instructors of software engineering courses typically organize students into teams but expect, erroneously, that students learn the skills they need and learn to avoid dysfunctional patterns simply by working in teams. This paper describes the development of tools that can incorporate an assessment-based continuous improvement process on team skills into engineering classes. The primary focus in on the development of (1) a self-report assessment tool that would provide pointers toward improvement and (2) a test of students' knowledge of best teaming practices. The paper also describes a first pass at embedding these assessment tools into a continuous improvement process.


  • Haag, S.G., Caso, R., Fowler, E., Pimmel, R.L., Morley, P., 2003, “A Systematic Web and Literature Search for Instructional and Assessment Materials Addressing EC 2000 Program Outcomes,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The engineering accrediting body (ABET) has identified the skills and competencies in which engineering students are expected to be prepared by their engineering programs (EC2000, Criterion 3, a-k). These competencies include several often characterized as "soft," open-ended, or nontraditional (i.e., communication, teaming, awareness of global and social impact, etc.), which engineering faculty often profess feeling ill prepared to teach, and less prepared to assess, as classroom or programmatic outcomes. Typically, the traditional sources of engineering assessment tools and models (i.e., test suggestions from engineering texts and examination problems borrowed and adapted from other faculty members) are poor in resources addressing the "soft" ABET competencies. For these reasons a group of engineering educators and assessment and evaluation professionals from four NSF Engineering Foundation Coalition partner universities, undertook comprehensive, systematic Web and print literature searches and a survey of firsthand information about instructional and assessment materials being used to address the ABET a-k competencies. This paper confines itself to describing the methodology used and the results obtained in the systematic Web and literature searches. The paper discusses (1) the extent to which relevant instructional and assessment materials, for each particular ABET a-k category, were found to be publicly accessible online and in libraries; (2) the systematically cumulated impressions of investigators about the utility of the available materials; (3) the extent to which a-k instructional or assessment materials could be readily extrapolated from articles and presentation papers addressing ABET assessment; (4) the work undertaken to develop a Web-searchable database of categorized and annotated references to refer engineering educators to appropriate and available materials; and (5) the efforts to select, systematize and implement uniform methods for searching, documenting, classifying and compiling search information.

  • Pimmel, R.L., 2003, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Faculty Workshops,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference.

    Abstract: Faculty workshops provide an efficient, economical approach for disseminating the many new ideas and approaches created in the engineering education research and development efforts. Usually, workshop leaders use post-workshop surveys in a formative evaluation process to determine the participants’ likes and dislikes, but data on the effect of the workshop on the participants’ awareness, understanding, and implementation of these new ideas are lacking. The present report outlines a process for collecting summative evaluation data and provides some results from eight workshops, showing that they can impact faulty development.

  • Evans, D.L., Gray, G.L.., Krause, S.J., Martin, J.K.., Midkiff, C., Notaros, B.M., Pavelich, M., Rancour, D., Reed-Rhoads, T., Steif, P., Streveler, R., Wage, K.E., 2003, “Progress on Concept Inventory Assessment Tools,” Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference.

    Abstract: The Foundation Coalition and others have been working on the development of Concept Inventory (CI) assessment instruments patterned after the well-known Force Concept Inventory (FCI) instrument of Halloun and Hestenes. Such assessment inventories can play an important part in relating teaching techniques to student learning. Work first got started two years ago on CIs for the subjects of thermodynamics, solid mechanics, signals and processing, and electromagnetics. Last year work got under way on CIs for circuits, fluid mechanics, engineering materials, transport processes, and statistics. This year work began on chemistry, computer egineering, dynamics, electronics, and heat transfer. This panel session will discuss the progress on these concept inventories. More importantly, the panelists will discuss the early student data that are emerging from the process of continuous improvement of the instruments. Results will be compared to the data collected by Hake that are segregated by how the content was managed and delivered (e.g., "traditional" lecture mode compared to the "interactive engagement" mode, as defined by Hake). Discussions of effective practices for use in the development of CIs will also be discussed.


  • Pavelich, M., Jenkins, B., Birk, J., Bauer, R., Krause, S.J., 2004, “Development of a Chemistry Concept Inventory for Use in Chemistry, Materials, and Other Engineering Courses,” Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, 2004–1907.

    Abstract: Concept Inventory (CI) is the label given to an exam that explores students' mental models, their qualitative images, of how science and engineering work. Data support that students can often solve mathematical problems in a course but have poor or incorrect mental models about the fundamental concepts behind the mathematics. For example, a student may be able to recall, or deduce, and then apply the proper equation to solve a problem but may not answer a qualitative, conceptual, question correctly. We teachers would like students to be able to understand and correctly answer both questions. However, our traditional college curricula emphasize the quantitative type exercises and simply assume that student success on these implies strong conceptual mental models that would have them answer the qualitative question correctly. Data 1 from the well researched physics CI, the Force Concept Inventory by Hestenes, show that this assumption is not good. Most students who succeed in our science and engineering courses still have seriously immature or outright incorrect mental models about the subjects they have studied. Their concept understanding is much weaker than it should be. This paper describes the ongoing work on the development and testing of a Chemistry Concept Inventory (ChCI) meant to help faculty determine the extent of misconceptions about chemistry that students might carry into their engineering courses. The ChCI is also meant to serve as an evaluation instrument for chemistry or engineering faculty members who devise new ways of teaching designed to repair students' misconceptions and strengthen their correct mental models of chemistry. The work reported here was primarily done by co-author Brooke Jenkins as part of her Masters research in Chemical Education.


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