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Title: First-Year Experience (FYrE@ECST): Pre-Physics Course (WIP)
The College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology (ECST) at California State University, Los Angles, an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with over 60% Hispanic students, is committed to improving graduation rates through the Grad initiative 2025 (the California State University’s initiative to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating achievement gaps). The majority of our students are under-represented minorities, low-income, Pell-eligible and first generation. Currently, one quarter of the students leaving the major before the second year. Many that “survive” the first two years of math and science do not develop the knowledge and the skills that are needed to succeed in upper division engineering courses, leading to more students unable to finish their engineering majors. Three years ago, we launched a pilot program for the First-Year Experience at ECST (FYrE@ECST) for incoming freshmen. The program focuses on providing academic support for math and physics courses while introducing students to the college community, and comprises a summer bridge program, a hands-on introductory course, cohorted math and science sections, and staff and faculty mentoring. Academic support is provided through peer-led supplemental instruction (SI) workshops. The workshops have led to a significant improvement in student performance in Math, but have more » had no significant impact in the student performance in physics. Our hypothesis is that students, in addition to having limited understanding of calculus, struggle to understand the fundamental principles of physics and thus cannot apply their knowledge of math to theories in physics to solve problems. This work-in-progress paper describes an inquiry-based hands-on pre-physics course for first-year students as part of the FYrE@ECST program. The course is intended to prepare students for the calculus-based mechanics course in physics and covers about half of the competencies of a classical mechanics course, with focuses on the fundamental concepts of mechanics (i.e. Newton’s Laws, Types of forces, vectors, free-body diagrams, position, velocity and acceleration). Equations are only introduced in the second half of the semester, while the first half is directed to help students develop a deep understanding of these fundamental concepts. During classes, students run simple experiments, watch segments of movies and cartoons and are asked questions (written and orally) which can guide them to think intuitively and critically. A think-pair-share mode of instruction is implemented to promote inquiry and discussion. Students work in groups of five to discuss and solve problems, carry out experiments to better understand processes and systems, and share what they learned with the whole class. The paper presents preliminary results on student achievement. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1727054
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10100255
Journal Name:
Proceedings 2018 CONECD Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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