The inability of incoming students to advance past the traditional first-year calculus sequence is a primary cause of attrition in engineering programs across the country. As a result, this paper will describe an NSF funded initiative at Wright State University to redefine the way engineering mathematics is taught, with the goal of increasing student retention, motivation and success in engineering. The WSU approach begins with the development of a novel first-year engineering mathematics course, EGR 101 “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 101 course replaces traditional math prerequisite requirements for the above core courses, so that students can advance in the curriculum without having completed a traditional first-year calculus sequence. The WSU model concludes with 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 required math sequence. This paper includes significant updates since the approach was last reported, including a multiyear assessment at Wright State University and expansion of the program to collaborating institutions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_raymer/24/