Investigating The Extent That An Integrative Learning Module Broadens The Perception Of First-Year Students About The Engineering Profession

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Tim Foutz
Kerri Patrick Singer
Maria Navarro
Sidney Thompson


Interdisciplinary Education, Draw-An-Engineer-Test, Integrative Learning, Recruiting And Retaining Engineering Students


Engineers today need both engineering knowledge and social science knowledge to solve complex problems. However, most people have a traditional view of engineering as a field dominated by math and science foci, with little social consequence. This study examined and compared perceptions about engineering from Freshmen taking three different First Year introductory courses. Researchers used data from students’ responses in the Draw-an-Engineer-Test, an engineering problem analysis assessment, and interviews. The Treatment Group were students in an introductory engineering course in which they received instruction using an integrative learning module entitled, the “Water Module”, based on interdisciplinary learning theory. Control Group 1 were students in a “Traditional Engineering” course, and Control Group 2 were students taking a “Non-Engineering” course. Results indicate that students in the Treatment Group developed a better understanding of engineering and its social impact on society versus the two Control Groups. We suggest that integrative and interdisciplinary learning modules are effective for broadening students’ perspectives on engineering and its role in society.


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