Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

6-26-2011

Subject: LCSH

Engineering--Study and teaching, Chemistry--Study and teaching

Disciplines

Chemical Engineering | Chemistry | Engineering Education

Abstract

The role of first year chemistry courses in engineering programs varies somewhat across programs and disciplines. Clearly most engineering majors will encounter chemistry topics of a general nature in some of their upper-level course work. The purpose of requiring chemistry in the first year, however, goes well beyond learning chemical concepts. As a quantitative science, chemistry requires the use of math, principally algebra, on a regular basis in solving various problems. Students should gain an appreciation of the importance of units in solving problems should come to understand the difference between implicit and explicit properties and should develop other quantitative skills. Depending on how it is taught, chemistry can provide students with a wide range of opportunities to hone skills that will be required in their engineering courses. In discussions with students and even with many faculty, the role of chemistry is often viewed narrowly in terms of the chemistry topics alone. The purpose of this study is to explore how the number of chemistry courses taken and the performance in freshman chemistry affects performance in early engineering courses. Engineering students at the University of New Haven have different requirements for freshman chemistry depending on their particular discipline. All engineering students are required to take at least one freshman chemistry course. Students in chemical and civil engineering are required to take two, students in mechanical and system engineering have an option of biology or a second course in chemistry and students in electrical and computer engineering take only one freshman chemistry course. All engineering students take a sophomore engineering course, Introduction to Modeling of Engineering Systems, which includes topics drawn from electric circuits, mass and energy balances and force balances. The course is designed to help students develop an organized approach to solving problems and uses a conservation and accounting approach to provide a broad framework for the diverse topics. This course provides an opportunity to explore how their freshman chemistry background prepares studcents for engineering coursework. This study examines the impact of having one or two freshman chemistry courses on student performance in the first sophomore level engineering course. The methods used include standard statistical techniques, such as analysis of variance, correlation (eg., Pearson) and t-tests across groups.

Comments

© 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publisher Citation

Collura, M. A., & Ciston, S., & Savage, N. O. (2011, June). Effect of Freshman Chemistry on Student Performance in Sophomore Engineering Courses. Paper presented at 2011 Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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