Toward Increased Retention, Motivation and Success in Engineering

Student Success White Paper

The traditional approach to engineering mathematics education begins with one year of freshman calculus as a prerequisite to subsequent core engineering courses. However, the inability of incoming students to successfully advance through the traditional freshman calculus sequence is a primary cause of attrition in engineering programs across the country. As a result, the Wright State model seeks to redefine the way in which engineering mathematics is taught, with the goal of increasing student retention, motivation and success in engineering.

The Wright State approach begins with the development of a novel freshman-level engineering mathematics course, EGR 1010: "Introductory Mathematics for Engineering Applications." Taught by engineering faculty, the course includes lecture, laboratory and recitation components. Using an application-oriented, hands-on approach, the course addresses only the salient math topics actually used in core engineering courses. These include the traditional physics, engineering mechanics, electric circuits and computer programming sequences. The EGR 1010 course replaces traditional math prerequisite requirements for the above core courses, so that students can advance in the engineering curriculum without having completed a traditional freshman calculus sequence. This has enabled a significant restructuring of the engineering curriculum, including the placement of formerly sophomore-level engineering courses within the freshman year. The Wright State model concludes with the development of a revised engineering math sequence, taught by the math department later in the curriculum, in concert with College and ABET requirements. The result has shifted the traditional emphasis on math prerequisite requirements to an emphasis on engineering motivation for math, with a "just-in-time" structuring of the new math sequence.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

NSF Grant Numbers EEC-0343214, DUE-0618571, DUE-0622466, DUE-0817332