An application-oriented course to improve student performance in mathematics courses

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This is an evidence-based practice paper. Performance in pre-calculus and calculus courses has a strong impact on student success, retention, and graduation in any engineering school. One of the important reasons why students perform poorly in these courses is their failure to make the connection between concepts of mathematics, and engineering problems and applications. Without making this connection, students lose interest in their mathematics courses, resulting in high failure rates. This also strongly affects students' chances to make satisfactory academic progress within their degree, as mathematics and science courses are usually pre-requisites or co-requisites to their core engineering courses. This is a serious problem and must be addressed if students' retention and graduation rates are to be improved. Starting Fall 2016, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is offering a new course: Analytical Methods for Engineering Applications (ENGR101). This is an application-oriented course based on the Wright State University model adopted by over 40 colleges and universities. ENGR101 specifically targets students that are ill-prepared in mathematics based on the performance of a mandatory placement exam that all incoming first-time full-time first-year students take. All students placed in either of the two pre-calculus courses would take ENGR 101 in their first or second semester. Throughout the course, students are introduced to engineering problems and applications that rely on concepts of mathematics. Although this course has only been offered three times thus far, preliminary results are very encouraging. We found that students taking ENGR101 mostly did better in their pre-calculus courses than students who did not take ENGR101. An improvement in performance was also seen in their subsequent-semester mathematics courses. We are committed to offer this course for at least three consecutive years to assess the short-term and long-term effect on students' academic progress, performance in mathematics courses, and retention and graduation rates. This paper includes information about setting up such a course and the challenges that needed to be met. It also presents the results of our analysis thus far, including a comparison of the performance in mathematics courses of the participants against a control group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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