This is the third issue of Success 101. The purpose of
this newsletter is to provide a forum for engineering faculty and
administrators, engineering student service staff, and minority
engineering program staff to share ideas about how to conduct an Introduction
to Engineering course that will significantly enhance
engineering student success.
The effectiveness of various endeavors within higher education
vary greatly. Take for example, teaching students calculus.
Although, we might disagree in the specific extent, we would
probably agree that by and large this works. Students that want
to learn calculus register for a course in that subject. The
professor, an unquestioned expert in the subject, lectures on the
content; the students review their lecture notes, study the text
material and then do assigned homework; and in the end pass a
series of examinations that demonstrate their level of mastery of
the subject. Students that receive a satisfactory final grade are
judged to have adequate mastery to go on to the next course in
This consistency of effectiveness is not achieved in
Introduction to Engineering courses. Generally, these courses
operate at only the smallest fraction of their potential. Often
it is not clear why the course is part of the curriculum. It is
not a prerequisite for anything else and no one is very clear on
its purpose. Few faculty want to teach the course, but someone
gets stuck with the job. That person is not well-prepared for the
task, but resolutely sets about figuring out how to "fill
the time." A series of activities (lectures, speakers,
videotapes, tours) are planned that have little purpose other
than to fill the time. The students label the course "Sleep
101," and "take their medicine" as they have been
taught to do.
What a shame, because the need to help students transition
into university level study in math, science, and engineering is
so great. Many students bring such a myriad of deficiencies to
engineering study¾ deficiencies which
have very little to do with their level of preparation or their
intellectual ability. Among these can be: absence of clear goals;
weak commitment; inadequate study skills; unrealistic view of
whats expected; low self-esteem; lack of confidence;
external "locus-of-control;" weak social skills; lack
of sophistication in dealing with user-unfriendly systems; and
obligations from friends, family, and outside employment. Many of
these obstacles to success can be mitigated if not completely
eliminated through an Introduction to Engineering course
having a "student development/student success" focus.
Lets make these courses as effective in meeting their
objective of enhancing student success as Calculus I is in its
objective of teaching our students calculus.
IMPROVING ENGINEERING GUIDANCE
Introduction to Engineering Course for High School
Teachers and Counselors
by Raymond B. Landis, California State University, Los
Cal State L.A. has received a $20,000 grant from the ARCO
Foundation to deliver a modified version of its ENGR 100,
Introduction to Engineering course to high school math and
science teachers and college and career guidance counselors.
The purpose of the course is to improve participants
effectiveness in providing guidance to high school students in
Engineering as a career opportunity
Engineering as a field of study
Strategies for success in university study of math,
science, and engineering
The course will be offered to 30 participants in summer, 1997
(July 17, 18, and 19) on a three-day short course format and to
another 30 participants in fall, 1997 on regular quarter schedule
(Tu 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. for eleven weeks).
The grant will cover all fees, books, and materials, and
provide each participant with a $150 stipend to cover incidental
expenses associated with attending the course. Text for the
course will be Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding
The effectiveness of the course will be reported on in future
issues of Success 101. It is hoped that other engineering
colleges will develop similar initiatives to improve the
engineering guidance capability of teachers and counselors at
their feeder high schools.
CALL FOR PAPERS
ASEE Freshman Programs Division
The Freshman Programs Division is seeking papers for
the 1998 ASEE Annual Conference to be held June 28-July 1, 1998
in Seattle, Washington. Topics should focus on educational
activities associated with first-year students, including
advising programs, the use of computers and computer software
instruction, creative problem-solving courses, integrating design
into the freshman year, hands-on problem-solving courses,
retention programs, and precollege orientation and recruiting
programs. Submit a one-page abstract by September 30, 1997 to:
Eric Soulsby, University of Connecticut, Associate Dean for
Undergraduate Programs, Storrs, CT 06269; Telephone: (806)
486-2223; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come visit us (Ray Landis and Marty Roden) at the Discovery
Press booth (#307) in the Exhibit Hall at the ASEE Annual
Conference, June 16-18, 1997 in Milwaukee. We would be pleased to
talk with you about our two texts Studying Engineering: A Road
Map to a Rewarding Career by R. B. Landis and Electronic
Design: From Concept to Reality, Third Edition by M. Roden
and G. Carpenter.
Also you are invited to attend Session #2653. In this session,
sponsored by the ASEE Freshman Programs Division, Ray Landis will
be presenting a paper titled, "Enhancing Engineering Student
Success: A Pedagogy for Changing Behaviors." The session is
scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17.
of the Brooklyn Bridge
[Note: This story was provided by Dr. Edward N. Prather,
University of Cincinnati]
The story surrounding the building of the Brooklyn Bridge is a
wonderful illustration of the power of persistence. Everyone
thought that building a bridge spanning the East River between
Manhattan Island and Brooklyn was impossible. Everyone, that is,
except John Roebling. It took him eleven years to convince the
politicians and his engineering peers that it could be done.
Finally, in 1866, he was named Chief Engineer for the Brooklyn
Bridge project. Just one week later, he was killed in a ferry
boat accident¾ ironically, on the
same ferry that his bridge would have made obsolete.
Everyone thought the bridge project would die with John
Roebling. However, his son Washington had heard his father talk
so often about building the bridge that he believed it could be
done. Washington Roebling became an engineer and proceeded to
turn his fathers dream into a reality.
Three years into the project, tragedy struck once more. The
bridge was being built using caissons¾
watertight chambers that supported the bridges foundations.
After working in the highly compressed atmosphere of the caisson,
Washington came to the surface too rapidly and was stricken with
caissons disease, (known to divers as the bends). He suffered
permanent brain damage and was unable to walk or talk. It was
impossible for him to go to the work site or to communicate with
In the face of this adversity, he persisted yet again. He
developed a kind of Morse Code using his right index finger, the
only part of his body that he could still control. Using this
method, he was able to communicate with his wife Emily. Every day
for the next ten years, he tapped out instructions for her to
carry to the work site. Following his instructions, Emily learned
the necessary mathematics and engineering skills to enable her to
carry out his directives. The bridge was completed in May, 1883,
and Emily Roebling led the grand opening parade across the
Brooklyn Bridge. Seated in his wheel chair, Washington watched
the parade from his apartment window. No doubt he was tapping out
a message to his father: "We finally did it!"
Armed with your purpose, a positive attitude, and persistence,
you too can do it.
Forty-five eager participants attended the second offering of
an NSF-sponsored Chautauqua three-day short course
"Enhancing Student Success Through a Model Introduction
to Engineering Course," March 20-22, 1997 in
The purpose of the course was to train participants in the
delivery of an Introduction to Engineering course having
primarily a "student development/student success"
focus. An additional fifty-eight participants attended the same
course at Clark-Atlanta University, May 5-7, 1997.
We plan to offer the course twice next year¾
in March, 1998 in Los Angeles; and at a location in the East in
Building Student Commitment to Engineering
(Note: This was excerpted from R. B. Landis, "Building
Student Commitment to Engineering," Proceedings of 1996
ASEE Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.)
Perhaps the first step is to convince students of the
importance of having a strong commitment to engineering as a
field of study and as a career goal. Students may not be in touch
with the fact that they know very little about engineering and
dont realize that their commitment to becoming an engineer
is not sufficiently strong.
Ask the students in your Introduction to Engineering
class: "Is success in engineering study the number one
priority in your life?" You may be surprised to find that
very few hands go up.
The importance of commitment can be brought home by
emphasizing that the most likely reason they will fail to
complete their engineering program is that they will encounter
some adversity and give up.
One of the primary reasons for the lack of strong commitment
is that students know very little about engineering and very
little about the rewards and opportunities of engineering
careers. One way to uncover this is to have students in the
Introduction to Engineering class respond extemporaneously to the
question: ""If your grandmother asked you what
engineering is, what would you tell her?"
Help students understand that it is likely that they have a
better understanding of most of the other respected professions
available in the society (e.g., lawyer, doctor, accountant,
minister, pharmacist, scientist, mathematician). Have a general
discussion of why they have had so little exposure to
Teach students that learning about engineering is a lifelong
process, but it should begin now. Give them the perspective that
they should take advantage of every opportunity to learn more
about engineering. Have them brainstorm all the ideas of things
they could do on their own initiative. The list might include:
Go on field trips to industry.
Talk to industry representatives at career day programs.
Browse the resource library in the career planning and
Join the professional engineering society corresponding to
Bead biographies of successful engineers.
Get an engineering-related summer job.
Read an Introduction to Engineering text.
Pick a product (e.g., bicycle, car alarm, microwave oven)
and research what role engineers play in its production.
Interview a practicing engineer.
Search the Internet for information on specific
Write to an engineering society (IEEE, ASME, etc.)
Assign some of these tasks as homework in your Introduction
to Engineering course, but also encourage students to engage
in them on their own initiative.
Utilizing the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
by Jacqueline M. Slaughter, California State University,
An effective way I have found to orient a freshman engineering
class is to give the students a framework for success.
Development of this framework begins by having the students
realize that just as there are "bad habits," there are
also "good habits."
One excellent source of good habits is Stephen R. Coveys
book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon
& Schuster, New York, 1989). While I teach all seven habits
to my students, the most relevant and useful are the first two:
(1) be proactive; and (2) begin with the end in mind.
Habit #1 forces students to look at themselves critically and
discover what they can do to make their dreams become a reality.
This habit is vital because it makes students realize that they
must "swear off" everything that hinders them from
achieving their goals. This means they must eliminate all
negative factors and distractions¾
like procrastination¾ and accept
responsibility for both their successes and failures. Coming to
grips with Habit #1 is often daunting for first-semester
freshmen, but it is extremely critical.
Habit #2 is effective because it speaks to students from where
they are now. It shows students that whatever they do now affects
whether or not they achieve their goals in the future. Within the
purview of Habit #2, I encourage my students to work on managing
their time effectively, setting priorities, and taking the
initiative to begin and complete projects. Just being able to do
these things goes far in giving students a sense of self-control
and self-efficacy. I also stress the importance of being able to
handle many priorities at one time. Oftentimes, students
dont realize the importance¾ or
rather the art¾ of juggling multiple
priorities. When they do, though, they start to re-think their
mindsets. They start to see themselves achieving their goals and
mastering their obstacles.
Coveys fourth habit, think win-win, is also very
important. At first glimpse, this may not seem particularly
relevant to engineering freshmen, since their main concern is
their own performance. However, Covey wisely observes that the
highest form of success derives from becoming interdependent with
others. True successes, he asserts, come from independent people
learning to depend on others to come up with the best solutions
and approaches to problems. A "win-win" approach
produces results that satisfy all parties, while making each
participant successful. We apply this habit often when we
encourage students to seek tutoring or work in study groups.
Thinking "win-win," also helps students realize that
just as their personal success is important, they have a
responsibility to ensure the success of others as well.
My students and I often have fun when studying these habits
for success. And each time I teach them, I get more rooted in
what Covey is saying. I think you will find them useful in
imparting to your students the necessity of taking charge of
their studies and helping them pursue their goals and
Those who order Studying Engineering beginning in July,
, 1997 (the Seventh printing) will find an improved binding which
will eliminate any problem of loose pages and allow the book to
lay flatter. The following pages have been updated (copies of the
new information will appear in the Fall, 1997 newsletter).
|Page 24 - The table of numbers of graduates has been
updated from 1990/91 data to 1993/94.
|Page 30 - The table for starting salaries has been
updated from 1993/94 to 1995/96.
|Page 42 - The table of sizes of engineering
disciplines has been updated from 1993/94 to 1995/96.
|Pages 64-65 - The telephone numbers of engineering
societies have been updated where needed, and Internet
addresses have been added.
|Page 128 - The number of BS graduate by ethnic and
gender groups has been updated from 1993/94 data to
|Page 200 - The number of colleges in the first
paragraph of 6.1 has been updated.
Studying Engineering by Raymond B. Landis is published
by Discovery Press (www.discovery-press.com) and distri-buted by
Legal Books Distributing. The book can be ordered by calling
1-800-200-7110 [in Los Angeles County, call 213-526-7110]. Ask
for the book by title or by ISBN Number 0-9646969-0-8. Your order
will be shipped the same day you place it. Retail price (single
copies) is $22.95 plus shipping. For multiple copies, ask for the
bookstore discount price of $17.22 plus shipping.
[Note: This article is excerpted from Joan Middendorf and Alan
Kalish, "The Change-Up in Lectures," National
Teaching & Learning Forum, Volume 5, Number 2, The Oryx
Press, Phoenix, Arizona, 1996]
The list below presents over a dozen "change-up"
options. You should be able to find a few here that work for you.
On that dark night of the teaching soul, when you have run out of
ideas for a change-up, pick something new from this list.
Student Generated Questions:
Write a Question
The simplest of these techniques: instead of saying "Are
there any questions?" ask each student to write down one to
three they have about the material just covered. Then ask several
(volunteers at first) what their questions are and answer them
(or get students to answer them). Having students write
their questions down gives them all a chance to acknowledge what
they really do not know. Seeing the questions in writing helps
them feel authorized to ask them.
Alone, or in pairs, or groups of three, students write an exam
question about material just covered in class. (They should
follow the format of your actual exams¾
essay, multiple-choice, etc.) After a brief time for discussion,
you select at least four groups to report their questions to the
whole class. Write these on the board and ask other students to
critique them (give specific criteria). You can collect all of
the questions in writing; use the best ones on the exam!
In three or four minutes, have students discuss something with
the person next to them: summarize class so far; react to theory,
concepts, or information being presented; relate todays
material to past learning, etc. Make your questions as specific
as you can.
Think (or Write) - Pair - Share
Pose a question which requires analysis, evaluation, or
synthesis. Each student thinks or writes on this question for one
minute, then turns to the person seated nearby to compare ideas.
Then the pairs share their ideas with some larger group (pairs of
pairs, section of the class, or whole group).
To help students make specific references to the text, go
around the room and ask each one to state a concrete
image/scene/event/moment that stands out. List these on the
board. Follow up by having them find themes or patterns, missing
points, etc. Then discussion can move to analysis with a common
collection of facts.
Give one or two prepared questions to groups of three to five
students. Each group records its discussion and reports to the
whole class. Then help the class synthesize the groups
Ask several small groups to decide on three things they know
to be true about some particular issue. This is useful when
introducing a new topic which students think they know well, but
where their assumptions need to be examined.
Kisses and Crackers
To overcome the flagging of attention, when you notice energy
and attention diminishing, pass out crackers and Hersheys
kisses. The professor who taught us this technique tells that
research in "accelerated learning" shows that eating
about once per hour actually promotes learning. Not only does the
food wake students up, the mere act of passing the bags around
changes the activity and refocuses attention. He says that this
also helps students feel good about his class and him an overcome
After presenting a controversial topic, pass around several
sheets to collect written reactions to these three questions:
"What ideas do you question?" "What ideas are new
to you?" and "What ideas really hit home?" Follow
up with discussion. Variations are to ask each student to write a
sheet or to have small groups do so.
Students line up according to how strongly they agree or
disagree with a proposition or how strongly they value something.
This gives a visual reading of the continuum of feelings in the
group. Next, sort students into heterogeneous groups for
discussion by grouping one from either end with two from the
middle. Ask students to listen to differing viewpoints in their
groups and to paraphrase opposing positions fairly.
Ask all students who agree with a proposition to sit on one
side of the room and all opposed on the other side. Hanging signs
describing the proposition helps. It is important that they
physically take a position and that opposing sides face each
other. After they have sorted themselves out, switch the signs
and force them to argue for the position with which they
disagree. This activity¾ which pushes
"Value Lines" one step further¾
is one of very few activities that plunge people into temporary
ownership of viewpoints in opposition to their own strongly held
Have the students write a brief evaluation of their learning.
After an essay (or project) have them answer the following:
Now that you have finished your essay [or project], please answer
the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers; I
am interested in your analysis of your experience writing this
essay [or doing this project].
What problems did you face during the writing of this
essay [doing this project]?
What solutions did you find for those problems?
What do you think are the strengths of this essay [project]?
What alternative plans for this essay [project] did you
consider? Why did you reject them?
Imagine you had more time to write this essay [work on
this project]. What would you do if you were to continue
working on it?
For an expanded list of activities and a fully-referenced copy
of Middendorfs and Kalishs article, send a request by
e-mail to: email@example.com
Community building is one of the five key themes of an
Introduction to Engineering course having a "student
development" focus. Building students in the class into a
learning community logically divides itself into three stages:
Socialization - Each student knows
every other student in the class.
Group building - Student 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.
The "socialization" stage and the "human
relations training" stage were discussed in the spring 1996
and fall 1996 issues of Success 101. This article will
address the "group building" stage.
The purpose of the "group building" stage is to
create a strong sense of group cohesiveness and an attitude of
mutual support. Building this sense of group is not as
straightforward as getting students to know each other and as
working to improve their interpersonal skills. But this process
of shifting students perspective from being
"individual-centered" to being
"group-centered"¾ from a
spirit of competition to a spirit of cooperation and mutual
support¾ is extremely important. Not
only will this shift enhance students effectiveness as
engineering students but it will enhance their effectiveness
throughout their lives and their careers.
Discuss with your students the idea that people are more
effective working in groups than as separate individuals. Point
out to them that they are each others most valuable
resource. Discuss the idea that if they agree to define
themselves as a supportive group, the payoff will be that each of
them will be in a highly supportive environment¾ the type of environment that will promote
their individual success.
There are a variety of ways to build a group identity¾ an espirit de corps, if you will.
Have a group photo taken by the campus photographer and provide a
copy to each student in the class. This reinforces the group
identity and can be helpful to you and them in learning names.
Have the students select a name for the group. Develop the class
into an organization, much like a student organization with
committees and subcommittees organized around specific purposes
(e.g., arranging speakers, organizing a volleyball game, putting
on an end-of-the-term party, making a class T-shirt). Encourage
the group to take on an academic challenge goal (e.g. "Last
year the students in my Introduction to Engineering class
achieved an average fall term GPA of 2.55. Are you willing to set
a goal of beating that?").
Develop an address and telephone list for all who are willing
to share that information. Get all of the students an e-mail
address and encourage them to communicate with each other outside
of the class. Where some of the students are in common sections
of other classes, encourage them to get together for group study
sessions. Suggest that they do things with other members of the
group such as attending an engineering student organization
meeting or going to a sporting event or cultural event on campus.
In subgroups, have them conduct a scavenger hunt to learn about
campus resources similar to that described on page _____ of this
This is just a partial list of those things you can do to
build the students in your Introduction to Engineering
course into a supportive group. You can come up with many more
ideas. If you try it, itll work, the students will benefit,
and both you and they will have fun in the process.
Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame football coach and motivation
speaker, provides four questions he asks of his players which are
essential to individual and team success:
Can I trust you to do the right thing?
Are you committed to do your best?
Do you treat others as you would like to be treated?
Can you tell me why you are going to succeed?
Have students in your Introduction to Engineering
course answer these questions as a written homework assignment
and then lead an in-class discussion around their responses.
Jeff Jawitz, Educational Development Officer in the College of
Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa,
conducts a scavenger hunt in his Introduction to Studying
Engineering course to help students discover some of the
sources of information available to them. He divides his class
into groups and sends each group off for 45 minutes to learn
things like the following:
What should you do if you lose your UCT Registration Card?
How much does it cost to share a double room in Kopano
Residence and eat two meals a day (breakfast and dinner)?
What is the date of your first mathematics class test?
Until what date can a student withdraw from a whole course
in the curriculum?
What is the name of the head of your Department?
How many copies of A Handbook of Writing for Engineers
by Joan van Emden are there in the library?
How much does a 1995 UCT Student Diary cost?
Photocopy the front page of a math examination paper (Math
103 or Math 105) from any year and hand it in with the
answers to the above questions.
There are several versions of this list. A small prize is
awarded for the group that has performed the tasks and answered
the most questions correctly.
NEED MOTIVATION TOO
A bit of motivation for the teachers of Introduction to
Engineering courses is provided by Dr. Mike Kelly,
Northrop-Grumman Engineering Endowed Chair, California State
University, Los Angeles.
If you are planning for a year ahead . . . sow rice
If you are planning for ten years . . . plant trees;
If you are planning for a hundred years . . . educate people.
Pedagogy for Changing Behaviors
by Raymond B. Landis, California State University, Los
Perhaps the most effective structure for enhancing engineering
student success is an academic year course having a primary focus
on student development. Such a course represents a
"tool," and like any tool, it will only accomplish what
it is capable of when it is in the hands of a skilled
craftsperson. Realizing this potential requires engineering
faculty and academic staff who want to learn how to be those
Being a "skilled craftsperson" in the teaching of
such a course requires both a vision and also the capability to
deliver on that vision. The vision as I see it is best stated as
If I can have 30 or 40 hours with a group of students,
I can create a major "life-changing" experience
for those students¾ one that
will significantly enhance their success.
This is a lofty vision, one that will best be accomplished if
the instructor adopts a "student-centered" pedagogy
that is designed to provide students with exposure through
experiential learning to key "success" behaviors. When
students experience a behavior that works, there is a good chance
that it will become habitual.
Changing student attitudes is a five-step sequential process:
Establishing a baseline
Processing the outcomes
Lets illustrate this pedagogy with an example. In our Introduction
to Engineering class, we decide to work on the following
Students make effective use of their peers by
frequent sharing of information and by regularly engaging
in group study and collaborative learning.
Step 1 - Establishing a baseline
Ask the class. "How many of you spend some fraction of
your study time studying with a least one other student?"
Then ask the class, "How many of you spend virtually 100%
of your study time studying by yourself?"
If your experience matches mine, youll find that only a
small fraction of freshman engineering students engage in group
study with other students. If you verify this to be the case,
then you can move to Step 2.
Step 2 - Delivering knowledge
Have students read articles on the efficacy of collaborative
learning. Section 3.4 (pp. 78-84) of Studying Engineering
would suffice for this purpose. The section there presents the
idea that there are only two learning structures: 1) solitary;
and 2) collaborative (i.e., either you do it alone or you do it
with someone else), and that collaborative learning has three
Youll be better prepared for the engineering
Youll learn more
Youll enjoy studying more
Give the class your perspective on the value of collaborative
learning. Discuss how to go about it including some of the
pitfalls to watch out for. Bring in an upper-class student or
recent graduate who studied with other students to give his or
Step 3 - Building commitment
Ask the class what they think of the knowledge you have
brought to them. Ask those who indicate they study alone:
"Why? Why dont you study with other students?"
Have those students who indicated they engage in group study
relate why these reasons have not kept them from doing so. Seek
agreement from those who are studying 100% alone that they will
try out studying with other students, if only as an experiment.
Step 4 - Requiring implementation
Give the class the following assignment
Identify a study partner in one of your key classes.
Within the next two weeks, get together with that person
for at least a two-hour study session.
Write a one page critique of what happened
Come to class two weeks from today prepared to share what
happened with others in the class.
Step 5 - Processing the outcomes
At the designated class, lead a discussion about what
happened. Have several students read their one-page critiques
aloud. Ask other students to tell what happened during their
collaborative learning session. Seek to find out not only what
worked, but what didnt work. Try to get a discussion going
among students rather than just from each student to you. Refrain
from giving your views on each comment. Turn issues that come up
back to the class (e.g., "Does anyone have an idea about
Collect the one-page critiques and review them. If
appropriate, discuss what was learned from them at the next
class. If it seems that additional knowledge has been brought
forth and the level of resistance has been reduced during Step 5,
you may want to return to Step 4 (i.e., assign the class to
repeat the assignment).
OF PAPER ON ENGINEERING STUDENT ATTITUDES
The April 1997 issue of the Journal of Engineering
Education contains an excellent paper titled
"Characteristics of Freshman Engineering Students: Models
for Determining Student Attrition in Engineering," by Mary
Besterfield-Sacre (now at UTEP), Cynthia J. Atman, and Larry J.
Shuman at the University of Pittsburgh.
Recognizing that the attitudes engineering freshman bring with
them will be a key factor in their success, the authors
identified attitudes potentially affecting learning and retention
and developed a survey instrument to measure those attitudes. The
instrument, the Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Survey,
has a total of 50 items that measure student attitudes in
thirteen categories. These categories are described below:
|General Impressions of
||How much a student likes
|Financial Influences for Studying
||Belief that engineers are paid well and
that having an engineering degree helps assure career
|Perception of the Work Engineers Do and
the Engineering Profession
||Considers engineering a respectable field
and the work engineers do has a positive impact in
solving the worlds problems
|Enjoyment of Math and Science Courses
||Preference for math and science courses
over liberal arts courses
|Engineering Perceived as Being a
||Belief that engineering is an exact
|Engineering comparing Positively to Other
Fields of Study
||Preference for engineering over other
fields of study
|Family Influences to Studying Engineering
||Belief that parents are influencing
student to study engineering
|Confidence in Chemistry
||Self-assessed confidence in chemistry
|Confidence in Communication Skills
||Self-assessed confidence in writing and
|Confidence in Basic Engineering Knowledge
||Self-assessed confidence in knowledge of
calculus and physics, and in computer skills
|Adequate Study Habits
||Beliefs about the adequacy of current
|Working in Groups
||Preference for working in
|Confidence in Engineering Skills
||Belief that one has the creative
thinking, problem solving and design skills required to
survive in engineering
The survey was initially used at the University of Pittsburgh
and later at North Carolina State University. The comparitive
institutional results can be found in "Changes in Freshman
Engineers Attitudes - A Cross Institutional Comparison What
Makes a Difference?" which was presented at the 1996
Frontiers in Education Conference and is on the Internet
Attitudes of entering students correlated well with student
persistence in engineering and the results of the survey can be
used to identify "high risk" students. The survey can
also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of different freshman
year intervention strategies by measuring changes in student
attitudes over the course of the freshman year
The authors are seeking other institutions that would like to
be part of a national project to administer the survey. If you
are interested in participating in this project, contact:
Dr. Mary Besterfield-Sacre
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, TX
Achievement, Motivation, and Success Behavior
by Dr. Edward N. Prather, University of Cincinnati
[As Assistant Dean in the College of Engineering, Dr. Prather
manages the Emerging Ethnic Engineers Program, which is designed
to increase the number of African American, Latino/a, and
American Indians who graduate in engineering from the University
Ironically, our educational system assumes that students will
learn achievement strategies indirectly just by following the
everyday advice of parents and internalizing the Protestant work
ethic values fostered by our schools. Unfortunately, many
students do not receive the kind of positive encouragement from
parents that will develop the thinking processes and behaviors
that lead to achievement and success. Our schools are more
concerned about students ability to regurgitate information
and pass standardized tests than in helping students learn life
skills that are necessary to achieve traditional educational
goals and far more. There is an old saying: "Give a person a
fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a person to fish and you
feed him for life."
At the University of Cincinnati, I developed and teach a
course entitled "Achievement, Motivation, and Success
Behavior." This course teaches students how to
"fish" for their dreams and goals and gives them the
tools they need to turn them into reality.
The course begins by helping students discover and verbalize
their purpose in life. The late Adam Clayton Powell once said,
"Mix a conviction with a man/woman and something
happens." The overwhelming conclusion of the human
motivation literature is that motivation is an internal
phenomenon. One of the worlds best kept secrets regarding
motivation is that you become what you think about. This is why
it is so important that students begin to dwell on their purpose
in life¾ it gives them a direction to
follow and helps them discover their passion.
Your purpose is not only what you want but also why you want
it. Finding your purpose is learning how to follow your head and
your heart. Armed with a purpose, students are better prepared to
use the vast resources of their imagination and memory to
motivate themselves toward the achievement of their goals.
The achievement motivation process is both a cognitive
(thinking) and affective (feeling) experience. The course next
focuses on the affective domain of the achievement process by
addressing the topic of "attitude." Earl Nightingale
said that "success in life is caused more by mental attitude
than mental capacity." The manner in which you approach life
(i.e., classes, professor, peers) will determine in large measure
how the world will respond to you. A positive attitude¾ one that looks for the good in new ideas
and people¾ will promote achievement
and success. I teach students the mental law of cause and effect¾ You reap what you sow.
Students learn from this positive, expectant attitude to expect
to succeed and how to create "win-win" situations. They
learn that the most effective way to begin forming a positive
expectant attitude is by acting as if you already possess it.
With practice, and in time, this new way of approaching life will
become a habit for them.
The final component of the course deals with the actualization
of purpose using planning, persistence, and goal setting.
"Plan your work and work your plan" is a popular adage
that illustrates the value of developing a cognitive map of
students goals. Different from just a list of goals, a
cognitive map includes alternative routes to the goals students
want to achieve and proves invaluable to students when they
encounter obstacles and setbacks.
Dorothy Height, President of the National Council of Negro
Women, once said, "Greatness is not measured by what a man
or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has
overcome to reach his or her goals." This ability to
overcome opposition and setbacks is called persistence, and it is
a matter of self-discipline. Self-discipline is taking control of
your mind, your habits, and your emotions, It is the ability to
do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you want to
or not. Self-discipline is the ability to meet prescribed
deadlines, to go the extra mile, to stay with a task until its
completion, and to replace negative habits with positive ones.
Self-discipline and persistence can be illustrated by anecdotes
such as the story of John Roebling, the builder of the Brooklyn
Bridge (see page ___)
CALL FOR PAPERS
Success 101 is published twice yearly (Dec 1 and May
1). We are seeking articles for the Fall, 1997 issue. Deadline
October 15, 1997. Submissions may range from very short
(e.g., quotes, exercises, activities) to up to two pages in the
newsletter (opinion pieces, success stories, letters to the
editor). Submit (preferably by e-mail or on disk) to:
c/o Dr. Raymond B. Landis
School of Engineering and Technology
California State University, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Telephone: (213) 343-4500
Fax: (213) 343-4555
Discovery Press Web Page
Please visit the Discovery Press web page
(www.discovery-press.com). The web page contains various
resources designed to support instructors of "student
success" courses for engineering students. These include the
Information on how to order Studying Engineering: A
Road Map to a Rewarding Career.
Chapter 2 of Studying Engineering (Chapter can be
downloaded and copied for distribution). Note: high school
students, teachers, and counselors can be referred to this
chapter for "guidance" on engineering as a career.
Spring 1996, Fall 1996, and Spring 1997 issues of Success
101 newsletter. Also opportunity to order additional
copies by sending e-mail to R. B. Landis.
Information on NSF-sponsored Chautauqua short course
"Enhancing Student Success Through a Model Introduction
to Engineering Course."
Opportunity to order 70-minute videotape "Enhancing
Student Success Through a Model Introduction to Engineering
Course"¾ edited version of
December 5, 1995 NTU Engineering Faculty Forum by e-mail from
R. B. Landis. Videotape includes discussion with faculty and
students with comments from Frank Huband, Norm Augustine,
John Gardner, and Richard Felder.
Opportunity to order Dissemination Document for NSF grant
"Improving Student Success Through a Model
Introduction to Engineering Course,"
November, 1995 by e-mail from R. B. Landis.
Paper by R. B. Landis, "Student Development: An
Alternative to Sink or Swim," Proceedings
of 1994 ASEE Annual Conference, June 1994.
Paper by R. B. Landis, "Building Student Commitment
to Engineering," Proceedings of 1995 ASEE Annual
Conference, June, 1995.
Paper by R. B. Landis, "Enhancing Engineering Student
Success: A Pedagogy for Changing Behaviors," Proceedings
of 1997 ASEE Annual Conference, June, 1997.
Sample syllabus of Cal State L.A. course, ENGR 100,
Introduction to Engineering.
Links to sample syllabi from Introduction to Engineering
courses at other universities (under construction).
EAS 100: A Hybrid Approach to Engineering and
Computer Science Student Orientation
by John M. Dorosz and Ester B. Johnson, University
of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
The freshman orientation course for engineering students
at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is unique. What
distinguishes it within the 26-campus University of Wisconsin
system is that it takes a "hybrid" approach to new
student orientation. A semester-long course, it ambitiously
yet effectively combines an expanded campus orientation with
an introduction to the study of engineering and computer
science. Housed in the College of Engineering and Applied
Science, EAS 100 acquaints students with programs in the
college itself, while also covering the rules and regulations
of the university in general. Information is provided on the
cooperative work program, student organizations, recommended
study habits and skills, and many other areas of benefit to
students new to the campus and the engineering or computer
What makes this course especially unique is that it is
facilitated by individuals who, although not engineers by
training, are professionals in student recruitment, academic
advising, and administration of student service programs. The
facilitators are directly and primarily involved with each
stage of the students progress, starting with initial
contact with the students while they are still in high school
or community college, continuing through summer orientation,
and then through the regular academic year advising process.
Through this continuity, student progress is monitored and
encouraged by people students know and feel comfortable with,
people who care about them and their success.
A key component of EAS 100 is that it provides a follow-up
to material covered in general orientation programs offered
by the Admissions Office and the Dean of Students Office. As
part of this follow-up, students in EAS 100 get a more
detailed introduction to campus resources such as employment
and career exploration services of the Career Development
Center, one-on-one tutoring available through both the
centralized Tutoring and Learning Center and the College, and
free student-run services provided to ensure personal safety
and security on campus. Also covered early in the course are
topics such as time management, note- and test-taking skills,
and orientation to the computer-aided engineering laboratory.
A second key component of the course is that it delves
extensively into the majors offered in the College. After a
discussion of the kinds of work engineers and computer
scientists do, department chairs are brought into the class
to discuss topics like: (1) what a specific major entails;
(2) what course sequence students should follow to enter it;
and (3) what employment opportunities are available upon
graduation. Additional exposure to engineering is provided
through hands-on design projects. Students are encouraged to
have regular contact with available academic advisors and
given other helpful hints as to how to use the system to
The class carries one unit of credit and students receive
a letter grade. Attendance is mandatory. Students are
required to submit regular homework from the text Studying
Engineering by Ray Landis and to complete two design
projects¾ one individually, a
"spaghetti tower;" and one working in a group, a
model car made out of newspaper.
How could you adapt EAS 100 for your campus? Although the
course has been designed to serve the needs of students at a
large, urban, commuter computer, the course objectives and
philosophy would benefit students at many other types of
institutions. Key elements include a supportive staff that
has a continuity of contact with students, a student-centered
approach which motivates students to take control of their
educational future, in-depth exposure to the engineering and
computer science disciplines, and an integrated approach to
orienting students to both the College and the University.