For well over two decades, engineering and technology educators have been deploying hands-on project-based learning activities in freshmen courses, in the hopes of inspiring students,increasing retention, and creating better educated graduates. Some of these educators have also been reporting the results of their efforts through papers published and/or presented in a widevariety of settings. In an attempt to understand the broad results of these efforts, this paper discusses the effects of mechatronic-based projects on the retention of engineering and technology students. To facilitate this discussion, we conducted a systematic review of well over 120 related sources of literature spanning the years from 1990 to 2014. This effort constituted a configurative review and allowed us to construct a methodically mapped landscape of the topicby applying a code or codes to each source. We will present the results of this effort, including abulations of the works that allow identification of the trends and gaps in the literature specific to the categories of Course Level, Content Delivery Method, Retention, Investment Level/Duration, Improvement Process, and Pedagogy. We will discuss our categorization strategies, and present conclusions about the efficacy of these approaches and the areas that appear most fruitful for additional research. In so doing, we hope to lay a strong foundation for future efforts towards improving the education of freshman technology students at a large land-grand, research-based university in the United States.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/raj_raman/53/