Behavioral objectives and outcomes were identified under each major theme and faculty agreed to develop resource
materials in support of these activities which would be shared will all participants. Each faculty member also agreed
to arrange to teach an "Introduction to Engineering" course in fall, 1993 and to handle all administrative
details necessary to set up such a course. Each faculty member also agreed to develop a methodology for evaluating
the impact of their course on student success.
The faculty group met again in June, 1993 to review course objectives and to participate in a four day Student Success
Course Workshop conducted by College Survival, Inc. The purpose of the workshop was to train teachers who present
extended orientation, study skills, and other student success courses. Topics ranged from teaching methodology including
active learning to how to gain administrative support for student success courses. Although the workshop was designed
to prepare instructors to use the text Becoming a Master Student, much of what was learned would apply regardless
of specific text used
OBJECTIVES OF FRESHMAN ORIENTATION COURSE
At the June, 1993 meeting, objectives for each of the five major course themes were developed. These objectives are
Community building -- Students in the "Intro to Engineering" course comprise a supportive,
Socialization -- Each student in the class knows every other student in the class.
Group building -- Students have a strong sense of group and are committed to a high level of mutual support.
Human Relations Training -- Students have the interpersonal skills necessary to interact with each other in a positive
and effective manner.
Academic Success Skills -- Students know about and put into practice positive attitudes and productive
behaviors that will result in academic success.
Interaction with faculty -- Students interact regularly their professors, positively and with benefit.
Interaction with peers -- Students make effective use of their peers by frequent sharing of information and regularly
engaging in group study and collaborative learning.
Campus resources -- Students are aware of and make optimal use of campus resources (e.g. writing center, counseling
center, health center, library, placement center)
Time on task -- Students manage their time so as to devote an appropriate amount of time and effort to studying
and are operating under the principle that they master the material covered in each class period before the next
class period comes.
Time on campus -- Students are aware of the importance of being immersed in the academic environment so that they
can take full advantage of the resources available to them and therefore spend as much time on campus as possible.
Other study skills -- Students are aware of and practice good study skills in other areas (e.g. note taking, test
Personal Development -- Students have a good understanding of and feel good about themselves and
their educational experience. Students interact well with and respect others, engage in good health and wellness
practices, and effectively manage the various aspects of their personal life.
Understanding of self -- Students' personality traits learning styles, and brain dominance have been assessed using
standard instruments and they have a strong understanding of themselves as unique individuals.
Self confidence and self esteem -- Student feel good about themselves, about their situation, and are confident
about their ability to succeed academically.
Self assessment -- Students have clear goals and have a plan for their personal development based on a self assessment
of their strengths and weaknesses.
Wellness and stress management -- Students engage in good health and wellness practices and know how to manage
stress through stress reduction methods.
Respect for and interaction with others -- Students value and respect differences in people and interact effectively
with people of all cultures, ethnicities, and genders.
Management of personal life -- Students are effective in managing the various aspects of their personal life including
interaction with family and friends, personal finances, workload, etc.
Professional Development -- Students are motivated by a clear understanding of engineering as a profession.
Students conduct themselves ethically and in a professional manner at all times.
Motivation -- Students are highly motivated through a clear understanding of the rewards and opportunities success
in engineering study will bring to their lives.
Understanding of engineering -- Students can give an articulate response to the questions "What is Engineering?"
Students are aware of the various academic disciplines and job functions of engineering.
Industry practice -- Students are aware of the various industry sectors (computer, aerospace electronic, utility,
oil, large constructors, etc.) and of how engineers are utilized in each of these sectors.
Professional student organizations -- Students recognize the value of actively participating in student organizations,
particularly those related to their chosen profession (ASME, ASCE, IEEE, etc) and seek to take on leadership roles
in those organizations.
Ethics and professionalism -- Students are aware of good ethical and professional practice and engage in such practice
at all times.
Orientation -- Students understand how the engineering college and the university work and
how to best take advantage of the resources available to them.
College of engineering -- Students understand the organizational structure, facilities, resources, and regulations
of the college of engineering and make effective use of them.
University -- Students understand the organizational structure, facilities, resources, and regulations of the university
and make effective use of them.
In fall, 1993, each of the faculty participants delivered an Introduction to Engineering course at their university.
Each is in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of their course in enhancing student success. Results are not
yet available and will be published at a later date. As an example of one approach that is being used to evaluate
course effectiveness, students complete the attached survey at the beginning and at the end of the course to assess
the change in student attitudes and behaviors.
Accomplishing the objectives listed above under the five major themes is a challenging task. Both course content
and a teaching methodology must be developed. Unfortunately, text material that focuses on engineering student development
is lacking. The NACME publication "Academic Gamesmanship: Becoming a 'Master' Engineering Student" can be
used. Currently, a text titled Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding Career is in preparation. Some
ideas on both course content and teaching methodology can be found in Reference 2.
The fundamental tenant of this paper is that our students can achieve much more than they do. By throwing them into
a "sink or swim" environment, an environment for which many are not prepared, more than fifty percent "sink."
Of even more concern is that many of those that do "swim," fall short of reaching their maximum potential.
Through an "Introduction to Engineering" freshman orientation course which focuses on "student development,"
we can enhance the academic success of our students. The purpose of such a course is not to present more "content,"
but to provide students with the skills they need to succeed both academically and personally.
This paper was partially supported by an NSF Undergraduate Course and Curriculum Development Program grant titled
"Improving Student Success through a Model 'Introduction to Engineering' Course."
Landis, R.B., "Retention by Design: Achieving Excellence in Minority Engineering Education," National Action
Council for Minorities in Engineering, New York, NY, 1991.
Landis, R.B., "Improving Student Success Through a Model 'Introduction to Engineering' Course," Proceedings
of the Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, Toledo, Ohio, June, 1992.
Ellis, David, Becoming a Master Student, Sixth Edition, College Survival, Inc., Rapid City, South Dakota,
Landis, R.B., "Academic Gamesmanship: Becoming a 'Master' Engineering Student," National Action Council
for Minorities in Engineering, New York, NY, 1987 (Reprinted 1992).
Landis, R.B., Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding Career, Discovery Press, 1995 (Distributed by
Legal Books Distributing, 4247 Whiteside St., Los Angeles, CA 90063, Telephone: (213) 526-7110)