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  1. Many university engineering programs require their students to complete a senior capstone experience to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed after graduation. Such capstone experiences typically integrate knowledge and skills learned cumulatively in the degree program, often engaging students in projects outside of the classroom. As part of an initiative to completely transform the civil engineering undergraduate program at Clemson University, a capstone-like course sequence is being incorporated into the curriculum during the sophomore year. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) program, this departmental transformation (referred to asmore »the Arch initiative) is aiming to develop a culture of adaptation and a curriculum support for inclusive excellence and innovation to address the complex challenges faced by our society. Just as springers serve as the foundation stones of an arch, the new courses are called “Springers” because they serve as the foundations of the transformed curriculum. The goal of the Springer course sequence is to expose students to the “big picture” of civil engineering while developing student skills in professionalism, communication, and teamwork through real-world projects and hands-on activities. The expectation is that the Springer course sequence will allow faculty to better engage students at the beginning of their studies and help them understand how future courses contribute to the overall learning outcomes of a degree in civil engineering. The Springer course sequence is team-taught by faculty from both civil engineering and communication, and exposes students to all of the civil engineering subdisciplines. Through a project-based learning approach, Springer courses mimic capstone in that students work on a practical application of civil engineering concepts throughout the semester in a way that challenges students to incorporate tools that they will build on and use during their junior and senior years. In the 2019 spring semester, a pilot of the first of the Springer courses (Springer 1; n=11) introduced students to three civil engineering subdisciplines: construction management, hydrology, and transportation. The remaining subdisciplines will be covered in a follow-on Springer 2 pilot.. The project for Springer 1 involved designing a small parking lot for a church located adjacent to campus. Following initial instruction in civil engineering topics related to the project, students worked in teams to develop conceptual project designs. A design charrette allowed students to interact with different stakeholders to assess their conceptual designs and incorporate stakeholder input into their final designs. The purpose of this paper is to describe all aspects of the Springer 1 course, including course content, teaching methods, faculty resources, and the design and results of a Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey to assess students’ learning outcomes. An overview of the Springer 2 course is also provided. The feedback from the SALG indicated positive attitudes towards course activities and content, and that students found interaction with project stakeholders during the design charrette especially beneficial. Challenges for full scale implementation of the Springer course sequence as a requirement in the transformed curriculum are also discussed.« less
  2. As part of a National Science Foundation-funded initiative to completely transform the civil engineering undergraduate program at Clemson University, a capstone-like course sequence is being incorporated into the curriculum during the sophomore year. Clemson’s NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) program is called the Arch Initiative. Just as springers serve as the foundation stones of an arch, the new courses are called “Springers” because they serve as the foundations of the transformed curriculum. Through a project-based learning approach, Springer courses mimic the senior capstone experience by immersing students in a semester-long practical application of civil engineering, exposing them to concepts andmore »tools in a way that challenges students to develop new knowledge that they will build on and use during their junior and senior years. In the 2019 spring semester, a pilot of the first Springer course introduced students to three civil engineering sub-disciplines: construction management, water resources, and transportation. The remaining sub-disciplines are covered in a follow-on Springer 2 pilot. The purpose of this paper is to describe all aspects of the Springer 1 course, including course content, teaching methods, faculty resources, and the design and results of a Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey to assess students’ learning outcomes. The feedback from the SALG indicated positive attitudes towards course activities and content. Challenges for full-scale implementation of the Springer course sequence as a requirement in the transformed curriculum are also discussed.« less
  3. The Statewide Coalition Supporting Underrepresented Populations in Precalculus through Organizational Redesign Toward Engineering Diversity (SC:SUPPORTED), a Design and Development Launch Pilot funded under the National Science Foundation INCLUDES program, is a coalition of secondary districts and postsecondary institutions throughout South Carolina that have joined together to address the systemic issue of mathematics preparation and placement for students pursuing or intending to pursue engineering degrees. In Year One of the project, we used individual data for all 21,656 first-year STEM-intending students enrolled in a public two- or four-year postsecondary institution with ABET-accredited engineering programs in the state to identify specific pathwaysmore »with high rates of placement in or above calculus, pathways with balanced rates of placement in/below calculus, pathways with high rates of placement below calculus, and “missing” pathways: ones that produced disproportionately few engineering-intending students. From the pathways analysis we identified target locations for focus groups to identify factors that do not readily appear in institutional data, such as the impact of guidance counselor recommendations in a student’s selection of their last high school math course taken. Broad themes emerging from the focus groups provided additional insight into potential interventions at multiple points along educational pathways. These themes also contributed to both the development of a survey for statewide administration and a follow-up study to develop profiles of school district decision-making with direct and indirect effects on mathematics preparation and major selection of students from that district. As we conclude Year Two of our launch pilot, in this paper we integrate a subset of results from different aspects of the project to address both quantitative impact and qualitative context of the roles that poverty and guidance play in gaining access to engineering in South Carolina.« less
  4. Improving retention rates of engineering students in higher education has been a nationwide goal aimed at expanding and diversifying the engineering workforce. Initial mathematics placement in institutions is a major predictor for attrition, with 52% of students from two-year institutions starting below calculus as opposed to 14.4% of students from four-year institutions starting below calculus. Consequently, national data shows that the attrition rate for engineering students at two-year institutions is 69% while the attrition rate for engineering students at four-year institutions is 37%. As the prevalence of students taking an indirect path towards completing an engineering degree increases, the examinationmore »of those students’ pathways towards an engineering degree is necessary. In the SC:SUPPORTED project, we conducted focus groups with students from two-year and four-year institutions across the state of South Carolina. Themes related to academic influence, social influence and family influence emerged from analysis of the focus group data. Within family influences, which are the ways family members affect a student’s persistence in education, choice of major, and choice of institution, there were differences between students attending two-year institutions and those attending four-year institutions. Family members include parents, siblings, other relatives, and also “fictive” family. The goal of this paper is to discuss the factors that influence why students choose engineering and choose to attend a two-year or four-year institution.« less
  5. Improving retention rates of engineering students in higher education has been a nationwide goal aimed at expanding and diversifying the engineering workforce. Initial mathematics placement in institutions is a major predictor for attrition, with 52% of students from two-year institutions starting below calculus as opposed to 14.4% of students from four-year institutions starting below calculus. Consequently, national data shows that the attrition rate for engineering students at two-year institutions is 69% while the attrition rate for engineering students at four-year institutions is 37%. As the prevalence of students taking an indirect path towards completing an engineering degree increases, the examinationmore »of those students’ pathways towards an engineering degree is necessary. In the SC:SUPPORTED project, we conducted focus groups with students from two-year and four-year institutions across the state of South Carolina. Themes related to academic influence, social influence and family influence emerged from analysis of the focus group data. Within family influences, which are the ways family members affect a student’s persistence in education, choice of major, and choice of institution, there were differences between students attending two-year institutions and those attending four-year institutions. Family members include parents, siblings, other relatives, and also “fictive” family. The goal of this paper is to discuss the factors that influence why students choose engineering and choose to attend a two-year or four-year institution.« less
  6. Previous research has shown that initial mathematics course placement in college is a strong predictor of persistence to an engineering degree. This study examines whether greater access to devices used in high school STEM courses is positively related to a student’s college math course placement. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed. In the quantitative analysis, data on freshmen in Engineering and Engineering-related programs from across 20 public institutions within the same state revealed that classrooms with wireless access and the number of devices dedicated for student use in their high schools were not useful predictors of theirmore »math course placement in college. This runs counter to intuition and may provide new insight into the effectiveness of technology implementation within high school classrooms. In a qualitative analysis, the type of devices, frequency, and manner in which the devices were implemented in high school math courses were examined.« less
  7. Previous research has shown that initial mathematics course placement in college is a strong predictor of persistence to an engineering degree. This study examines whether greater access to devices used in high school STEM courses is positively related to a student’s college math course placement. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed. In the quantitative analysis, data on freshmen in Engineering and Engineering-related programs from across 20 public institutions within the same state revealed that classrooms with wireless access and the number of devices dedicated for student use in their high schools were not useful predictors of theirmore »math course placement in college. This runs counter to intuition and may provide new insight into the effectiveness of technology implementation within high school classrooms. In a qualitative analysis, the type of devices, frequency, and manner in which the devices were implemented in high school math courses were examined.« less