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Award Abstract #1317310

Improving Retention in Engineering by Incorporating Applications into Freshman Calculus

Division Of Undergraduate Education
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Initial Amendment Date: May 7, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: May 21, 2014
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Award Number: 1317310
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Nicole Bennett
DUE Division Of Undergraduate Education
EHR Direct For Education and Human Resources
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Start Date: August 1, 2013
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End Date: July 31, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $1,660,000.00
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Investigator(s): David Allen allen@che.utexas.edu (Principal Investigator)
Mark Daniels (Co-Principal Investigator)
Richard Crawford (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Texas at Austin
101 E. 27th Street, Suite 5.300
Austin, TX 78712-1532 (512)471-6424
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Jobs Council
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Program Reference Code(s): 8215, 9178, SMET
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Program Element Code(s): 1796, 8281


This project is being supported under a special funding focus for STEP, "Graduate 10K+," an activity of the National Science Foundation, supported in part by donations from the Intel Foundation and the GE Foundation, to stimulate comprehensive action at universities and colleges to help increase the annual number of new B.S. graduates in engineering and computer science by 10,000 over the next decade.

At the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), the most common reason for which first-year students withdraw from engineering is failure in freshman calculus courses. To address this barrier to retention, the project is providing a design-based context for learning in the freshman calculus sequence by development and implementation of engineering experiences that target key mathematical concepts with which students typically struggle. The goal of this project is to decrease failure rates in the redesigned first-year calculus courses by 50 percent, raising first-year retention by 100 students annually to 94 percent, and increasing the number of engineering graduates from the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin by 110 per year.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in the transformed recitation sections of the freshman calculus sequence that are being developed based on evidence-based practices. At full scale-up of the program, a total of 1000 engineering students are enrolled in the transformed recitation sections of freshman calculus classes. Course modules are being developed through collaborative efforts between engineering and mathematics faculty, while a Fellow in Engineering Education, mathematics teaching assistants, and engineering learning assistants implement the transformed recitations. The recitation sections, which engage students in solving design-based engineering problems by applying the concepts being taught in the calculus course, are using a combination of self-paced, online instructional materials and active, instructor- and peer-facilitated, team-based activities. Students view online background information about engineering challenges and work basic problems prior to class, then solve additional problems and discuss design implications in their recitation sections. The design-based engineering problems also are being incorporated into subsequent fundamental engineering courses including Statics, Dynamics, and Transport Phenomena.

The project's broader impacts are being realized in the comprehensive dissemination of the transformed freshman calculus model and course material to universities in the University of Texas System, UTeach replication sites, and other institutions. In addition, the UTeachEngineering program is adopting the material in the curriculum for the year-long high school course "Engineering Your World," which has been adopted by more than 100 schools.


Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch@nsf.gov.



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