• Newsletters-Sucess101
  • Submit Project
  • View Projects
  • Instructors Guides
  • ASEE papers
  • Share Syllabi
  • View Syllabi
  • Student Testimonials
  • Instructor Testimonials
  • Submit Testimonial
  • Interesting Topics
  • Current Statistics

The following articles all appeared in the Fall, 1997 issue of Success 101.


Authors Corner

Active Learning Strategies: Why All the Resistance?

Introduction to Engineering for High School Teachers and Counselors

Assessing Freshman Engineering Programs

Biographies of Successful Engineers


New Book from Discovery Press

Wisdom Beyond Her Age

Building Student Commitment to Engineering


Ten Reasons for Setting Goals

Learning to Learn: Using Guided Imagery for Personal Growth

An "Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Technology" Course for High School Students - Part II

Engineering Professional Development 101 at UW-Madison

PRISM Paper on Process for Changing Student Behaviors

Call for Papers

Authors Corner

This is the fourth issue of Success 101. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide a forum for engineering faculty and administrators, engineering student service staff, and minority engineering program staff to share ideas about how to conduct an Introduction to Engineering course that will significantly enhance engineering student success. Articles which appeared in the first three issues of Success 101 can be found on the Discovery Press web page: www.discovery-press.com.

The dictionary defines success as "the achievement of something planned or desired" and to succeed as "to realize a goal or goals." Hence, nothing planned or desired, no goal no success! It is no surprise that the first two reasons for student failure given by Vincent Tinto in his excellent book Leaving College are: 1) lack of intention, i.e., students lack clear educational and career goals; and 2) weak commitment, i.e., even when students have a clear intention, their commitment to that intention is not strong.

It surprises me that so many students do choose engineering as their major. How did they make that choice? Was the decision purposeful or was it done by the "process of elimination"? Where in students precollege experience would they learn enough to know that they wanted to be an engineer? If asked to articulate an answer to the question "What is engineering?" how well would most do? What do our new students know about the various engineering disciplines? The type of work engineers do? The various industry sectors and how each uses engineers? Do our students really know what its going to mean to the quality of their life if they apply themselves to engineering study and graduate?

An Introduction to Engineering course with a "student development" focus provides a wonderful opportunity to work with students on goal identification and goal clarification. Our students took the first step by writing "Engineering" (or even more specifically "Electrical Engineering") on their application form. We need to take the next step and help them strengthen their commitment to this intention.

Simple strategies for accomplishing this important task have proven highly effective. A road map is presented in my paper "Building Student Commitment to Engineering" which can be found in the Proceedings of the 1996 ASEE Annual Conference or on the Internet at: <www.discovery-press.com/asee96.htm>

In his insightful article in this newsletter, Richard Felder points out what should be self-evident but often is not that the students who come to us were high school students three months earlier. We need to keep this perspective in mind as we consider the needs of our first-year students. Helping them strengthen their commitment to engineering should be at or near the top of our list. Doing so will have a tremendous payoff for them and for us.

Ray Landis

Teaching Methodology

PRISM Paper on Process for Changing Student Behaviors

by Ray Landis

The November, 1997 issue of the ASEE magazine PRISM (pages 30-32) contains an edited version of my paper "Enhancing Engineering Student Success: A Pedagogy for Changing Behaviors" from the 1997 ASEE Annual Conference. The PRISM article titled "Enhancing Student Success: A five-step process for getting students to study smart" outlines a step-by-step approach for working with students to change their behaviors to those needed for success in engineering study. The article can also be found on the ASEE web page:


The five-step sequential process can be illustrated by a simple example.

Example: Preparing for Lectures

Suppose you believe that a good strategy for success in math/science/engineering courses is to prepare for each lecture, and you suspect that your students dont. Try the following approach:

Step 1 - Establish a baseline.

In class, ask your students the question: How many of you spend time (1/2 hr - 1 hr) preparing for each lecture in your key math/science/engineering courses? If your experience matches mine, very few hands will go up.

Step 2 - Deliver knowledge

Ask each student who indicated that they prepare for lectures to explain what they do, how they got started doing it, and what benefits they get from it. Then give your best explanation of why preparing for lectures is an important strategy for success. Explain what you mean by "preparing for a lecture" (e.g., read the text, formulate questions, attempt a few problems).

Step 3 - Build student commitment

Ask those students who didnt raise their hands: Why they dont prepare for lectures? Ask them if the ideas just presented make sense to them (i.e., Do they believe that preparing for lectures would benefit them?). Try to gain general agreement from the class that they would be willing to try preparing for their lectures, if only as an experiment to see whether they would benefit from doing it.

Step 4 - Require implementation

Make a class assignment requiring each student to prepare for each lecture in their key math/science/engineering classes for a two-week period. Require each student to write a one-page critique describing their experience in doing so. Ask them to bring their critique to class two weeks from the day the assignment is made and to come prepared to discuss their experience.

Step 5 - Process outcomes

At the designated class, ask several students to read their critiques aloud. Ask other students to comment. Seek to find out not only what worked but what didnt work. Try and get a discussion going among students rather than just between each student and you. Turn issues that arise back to the class (e.g., Does anyone have an idea about that one?").

The basic idea is that if you guide students through the process of experiencing a behavior that works, for many of them it will become habitual. At the end of the term, when you ask: "How many of you are preparing for your lectures and feel you are benefitting from it?, lots of hands will go up and youll feel good about having made a real difference.


Active Learning Strategies: Why All the Resistance?

Faculty tend to resist changing from the lecture format to active learning pedagogies. An Introduction to Engineering course having a "student development" focus is no place for one-way communication. Changing students behavior and changing students attitudes will not occur without their active participation.

Dr. Janet Fisher-Hoult, Director of the Center for Effective Teaching and Learning at Cal State L.A. provided the following list of reasons why faculty dont use active learning:

Educational tradition. Faculty lecture; students take notes.

The old model worked for me; why not for my students.

My class is too large to do active learning.

I have too much content to cover in lecture.

I dont want to change.

Whats in it for me?

Too much prep time is required.

I dont want to take risks, to lose control of my classroom.

What will my colleagues think?

I dont know how to do it.

Any of these sound familiar?


Introduction to Engineering for High School Teachers and Counselors

by Raymond B. Landis, California State University, Los Angeles

During summer, 1997 and fall, 1997, Cal State L.A. conducted an innovative course titled "Introduction to Engineering for High School Teachers and Counselors." The purpose of the course was to improve participants effectiveness in providing guidance to high school students in three areas:

Engineering as a career opportunity

Engineering as a field of study

Strategies for success in university study of math, science, and engineering

The course, which was funded by a generous grant from the ARCO Foundation, was offered in two formats as a three-day short course in summer, 1997, and for two hours a week for ten weeks during fall quarter, 1997. Twenty-nine participants attended the summer course and fifteen participants attended the fall course. Each format had plusses and minuses, but both courses were extremely well received by the participants.

The ARCO grant covered all fees, books, and materials, and provided each participant with a $150 stipend to cover incidental expenses associated with attending the course. The course was conceived as a modified version of the Schools course, ENGR 100, Introduction to Engineering. Participants were asked to thoroughly read my text Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding Career prior to the first session of the course.

Evaluations from the summer course were used to improve the fall course, and evaluations from the fall course will be used to improve future offerings of the course.

Specific Sessions

During the approximately twenty hours of contact time, the following sessions were conducted:

Session on "What is engineering" and "What are the rewards and opportunities of engineering careers."

Tour of engineering facilities in four generic areas: 1) design competitions; 2) research programs; 3) computing facilities; and 4) manufacturing facilities.

Panel of practicing engineers discussed "What Do Engineers Do?"

Panel of engineering faculty discussed the various engineering disciplines.

Workshop on how to use the Internet to learn about engineering.

Panel of engineering students on "A Student Perspective on Engineering Education."

Panel of industry representatives discussed "Industry Outreach and Resources Available to High School Teachers and Students."

Session on Success Strategies - "How to Change Student Behaviors."

Session on Success Strategies - "How to Change Student Attitudes."

Engineering Case Study - "The Solar Eagle Project."

Presentation on "professionalism and ethics" in engineering.

Futuristic talk on "What Does Industry Want/Anticipating the Future."

Overview of engineering education including faculty, curriculum, facilities, resources, students.

The course evaluations indicated that participants enjoyed all of the sessions included in the course. They particularly liked the student, faculty, and industry panels. They also very much enjoyed the tour of the facilities, the opportunity to learn about the Solar Eagle project, and learning about the Internet web sites on engineering.

When asked "Give some specific examples of how you might incorporate parts of the course in your teaching and work with students," most pointed to the "student success strategies" including goal setting, locus-of-control, study skills, and oral and written communications. When asked "Would you recommend this course to a colleague," the response was a unanimous and enthusiastic "YES!."

The success of the course is perhaps reflected by the comment of one participant:

I will be much more likely to direct students towards engineering and, above all, towards Cal State L.A. because of your sensitivity to their needs. I must admit I myself am attracted to the engineering program and my background is biology, genetics, and nutrition.

In summary, I hope this article will motivate other engineering schools to conduct a similar course for high school math and science teachers and college and career guidance counselors.


Assessing Freshman Engineering Programs

A Cross-Institutional Comparison of Student Attitudes

by Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Cynthia J. Atman, and Larry J. Shuman

Attitudes engineering students have about the field of engineering, about their self-assessed abilities, and about their engineering education can be important metrics for program evaluation and assessment.

Prior research at the University of Pittsburgh indicates attitudes that freshman engineering students have about themselves and about engineering provide valuable information for assessing engineering programs. Using a closed-form questionnaire that we developed and tested [], we have found that students initial attitudes and their changes over the course of the first year differ according to the students gender and their educational experiences []. In addition, initial attitudes students have are correlated with retention in the freshman engineering program. Students who left the freshman engineering program in good academic standing had significantly different initial attitudes about engineering and about themselves than those held by other comparison groups: students who stayed in engineering (either in good or poor standing) and students who left engineering in poor standing.

This information has been very helpful in identifying areas for improvement, both curricula and advising. Using the data from the questionnaire, we built empirical models to predict retention in the freshman engineering program. Implementation of the models have allowed freshman advisors to better inform students of opportunities in engineering and develop programs that take advantage of the diversity of students and their varied interests [].

However, these findings are reflective of only one institution. Attitudes students have may vary significantly from institution to institution depending on the geographic location of the student, the type of institution he/she is planning to attend, the knowledge base of the students, etc. In addition, differences in attitudes may render different relationships with respect to student attrition and success in engineering. Initial research comparing programs at the University of Pittsburgh and North Carolina State University indicate that the questionnaire was successful at identifying aspects that were useful in evaluating different freshman engineering programs []. Under NSF sponsorship (RED-9358516), we are conducting a pilot cross-institutional study of freshman engineering attitudes and their changes. The objectives of this study are to:

Understand the initial attitudes freshman engineers have about engineering and their self-assessed abilities,

Capture how these attitudes change during the first year as a result of their educational experiences, and

Investigate differences attributed to the institution the student attends, as well as gender and ethnicity.

We also plan to correlate attitudes students have to success in the freshman year, as measured by their grades, and retention in engineering.

To conduct this research, we are using the Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Attitudes Survey []. This closed-form questionnaire measures students' attitudes towards the engineering profession, the reasons they chose to study engineering, and their self-assessed confidence in: background knowledge and skills, and abilities to succeed in engineering. In addition to the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Texas-El Paso, we currently have ten other institutions nationwide participating in the study the 1997-98 academic year. The questionnaire was administered to over 2,400 students. Nine other institutions are interested in participating in the study at a future date.

Preliminary analysis of data from three institutions that used the instrument in the 1996-97 academic year has shown some interesting differences both across institutions and across gender and ethnic groups. Differences between institutions may be attributed to the "type" of institution that a student is attracted to or may be a function of the geographical location of the institution. We are currently investigating possible reasons for these differences; however, in analyzing the changes that occurred during the first year, we found that students are affected by the pedagogical and curriculum they experience.

With respect to gender, we have found results that are consistent with the literature. Specifically, we have found that female engineering students enter their engineering studies with lower confidence in their basic background knowledge and skills and have lower confidence in their abilities to succeed in engineering. We are still investigating how female students' attitudes change (or do not change) as a result of their educational experiences.

We also found several differences in students' initial attitudes among different ethnic groups. Specifically, we found that African-Americans and Hispanics enter their engineering studies with significantly higher "impressions about engineering" than the other ethnic groups in the study. In addition, African-Americans and Hispanics enjoyed working in groups more than the other ethnic groups. We also found that African-American and Asian-Pacific students had significant decreases in their self-assessed confidence in their engineering abilities. This is a possible retention alarm, as these student groups enter their engineering studies with significantly lower confidence than the other ethnic groups.

These preliminary findings are reflections of only three of the participating schools. As more data becomes available this academic year, more conclusive findings will be reported on in future journal articles and conference proceedings.

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact:

Dr. Mary Besterfield-Sacre

Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

University of Texas-El Paso

El Paso, TX 79968-0521

Telephone: (915) 747-7997


Professional Development

Biographies of Successful Engineers

One effective strategy for strengthening students commitment to engineering is exposure to role models. An excellent way to bring about this exposure is to encourage students to read biographies of successful engineers.

The following list of recommended books was prepared by Cal State L.A. Engineering Librarian Steve Sottong. We expect to include additional biographies in each future issue of Success 101. Inquiries or recommendations can be sent to Steve Sottong at:

[email protected]

Note: All of the books listed are available for purchase on the Internet through either:




The Idea Factory: Learning to Think at MIT, by Pepper White, Reissue Edition, Published by Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies, 1992 (ISBN #0452268419). This book traces the authors three-year journey to a Masters degree at MIT, one of the nation's premiere engineering schools. This is a very human story of struggles and triumph not only in gaining his degree, but also in learning to think.

The Ricardo Story, by Harry Ralph Ricardo, Published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, 1992 (ISBN #1560912111). Sir Harry Ricardo was a pioneer in engine research. His work spans the century; from design of tanks in both World Wars to work on modern automobile diesel engines.

Schoolmaster to an Empire, by R. Henry Brunton, Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991 (ISBN #0313277958). This is the autobiography of one of the first foreign civil engineers to work in Japan after the Meiji Restoration in the mid-nineteenth century. Bruntons description of his work in building a modern Japan shows the impact of technology on a culture and people and provides a guide for understanding modern Japan.

Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century, by G. Pascal Zachary, Published by Free Press, 1997 (ISBN #0684828219). Bush was one of the most influential engineers in the U.S. during and after World War II. He helped to create the military/ industrial complex, and anticipated and influenced the design of the personal computer with the theoretical "memex" machine he proposed in 1945. The book is an inspiring look at a pioneering engineer and his times.

Tesla: Man Out of Time, by Margaret Cheney, Published by Laureleaf, 1993 (ISBN #044039077X). This highly researched biography shows not only the pioneering engineer who invented three-phase AC power and the fundamentals of robotics, radio and missiles (as well as that favorite spark of 1950s horror movies, the Tesla Coil) but it also shows Tesla as an idealist, humanitarian and eccentric. The book details the controversy of AC vs. DC power that went on in the late 19th century with Tesla as the protagonist of AC and Charles Steinmetz and Thomas Edison for DC. Highly recommended.

Steinmetz: Engineer and Socialist, by Ronald R. Kline, Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992 (ISBN #0801842980). Steinmetz was the engineer who made many of Edisons inventions possible and practical. His engineering work for General Electric made it possible to transmit electrical power during lightning storms. This book shows both the engineering wizard and the man, who, in spite of (or perhaps because of) his physical handicaps was committed to the social welfare of his community.


Join other engineering faculty, minority engineering program staff, and engineering student services staff in a three-day short course to share and learn strategies and approaches for enhancing engineering student success.

The short course, offered for the past two years, will be conducted twice this year:

March 19-21, 1998 at the Sheraton Rosemead Hotel in Los Angeles, California

May 18-20, 1998 at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Participants will learn the content and pedagogy for accomplishing important objectives under five key themes:

  • community building
  • professional development
  • academic development
  • personal development
  • orientation

The course will benefit those working to enhance student success through summer orientations, formal academic year courses, or formal and informal advising and mentoring.

The format of the course will be strongly interactive with emphasis placed on group problem solving and experiential learning.

Both offerings of the short course will be co-facilitated by Dr. Ray Landis, Dean of Engineering and Technology at California State University, Los Angeles and author of the "student success" text Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a Rewarding Career and Dr. Ed Prather, Assistant Dean of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

The only cost for attending the short course is a $40 application fee. Participants will be responsible for their travel expenses and accommodations.

To register for the Los Angeles course, contact:

Dr. Francis P. Collea

California State University, Dominquez Hills

Telephone: (310) 516-3755

Fax: (310) 516-4484


[email protected] csudh.edu

To register for the Pittsburgh course, contact:

Dr. Nick Eror

University of Pittsburgh

Telephone: (412) 624-9761

Fax: (412) 624-8069



New Book from Discovery Press

(Available Fall, 1998)

Studying Engineering Technology

by Dr. Steven R. Cheshier

Discovery Press is proud to announce the publication of a new book, Studying Engineering Technology by Dr. Steven R. Cheshier. The book is being adapted from Studying Engineering by Ray Landis and will be available for adoption for Fall, 1998. The book is designed for use in Introduction to Engineering Technology courses at both the Associate Degree and Bachelors Degree levels.

Organized into eight Chapterers, this pioneering book will support engineering technology departments across the nation in improving the academic performance and retention of their students. The eight Chapterers are:

Chapter 1. Introduction to Engineering Technology

Chapter 2 . The Technological Spectrum/The Industrial Environment

Chapter 3. Academic Success Strategies

Chapter 4. Orientation to the Engineering Technology Education System

Chapter 5. Becoming an Engineering Technician (2-yr programs) or an Engineering Technologist (4-yr programs)

Chapter 6. Enhancing and Broadening Your Education

Chapter 7. Developing Yourself Personally

Chapter 8. Preparing for Lifelong Learning

Dr. Steven R. Cheshier has an ideal background to author this text. His distinguished 35-year career in engineering technology includes 10 years on the faculty of Electrical Engineering Technology at Purdue University, serving six years as head of the department, and seventeen years as president of Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. He is currently Institute Professor and President Emeritus of that institution. Dr. Cheshier has served as Chair of the Engineering Technology Council and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). In 1980, he was the first recipient of the National Distinguished Service Award from Tau Alpha Pi, the Engineering Technology Honor Society, and he received the ASEE 1984 James H. McGraw Award as Engineering Technology Educator of the Year.


Wisdom Beyond Her Age

One of my greatest pleasures in traveling to universities around the country is the opportunity to meet "special" students. While at the University of Michigan in Spring 1996, I met a wonderful young woman named Christine Avila. Christine was president of the Society of Minority Engineering Students, an umbrella organization over all minority engineering student organizations at the University of Michigan. When I met her she was nearing graduation and Im sure she is now working successfully as a practicing engineer.

Christine was heavily into motivational quotes and shared some of her favorites with me both when I was visiting there and later by e-mail. She told me: "A lot of people dont realize that their thoughts, conscious or unconscious, affect all aspects of their lives. They dont realize that they have to control their thoughts in order to control their actions." She asked me to share her quotes with others, so here are some of her best:

Many of lifes failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. - Thomas Edison

Its a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. - W. Somerset Maugham

The ancestor of every action is a thought. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it. - Henry Ford

If you do what youve always done, youll get what youve always gotten. - Anonymous

Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men. - Benjamin Disraeli

Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees. - J. Willard Marriott

They can because they think they can. - Virgil

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. - William Shakespeare

Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thought. - Anthony Robbins

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heavn of Hell, a Hell of Heavn. - John Milton

Whatever kind of word thou speakest, the like shalt thou hear. - Greek Proverb

This is only a portion of the quotes Christine shared with me. And because she is guided by them, I am confident she will achieve great success. I would urge you to follow Christines wisdom. Share these quotes with your students. Have the students discuss the quotes and/or write about them.

Ray Landis



Building Student Commitment to Engineering

(Note: This was excerpted from R. B. Landis, "Building Student Commitment to Engineering," Proceedings of 1996 ASEE Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.)

Active participation in engineering student organizations can contribute to building students commitment to engineering study. In fact, engineering student organizations are an effective vehicle for students to accomplish for themselves much of what you are trying to accomplish in your Introduction to Engineering course.

Typically, engineering student organizations provide benefits to their members in five areas:

Social interaction

Professional development

Academic development

Personal development

Service to the college and the community.

Note, in fact, that this list is the same as the five key themes of [an Introduction to Engineering] course . . .

Discuss these benefits with your students. What could be better than having your students interact socially with other engineering students rather than with students from other majors or friends from high school? Through participation, students will gain a sense of community and of belonging that can be highly motivational.

Tell your students about the important skills they will develop through participation in engineering student organizations. Emphasize that the leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills they will gain will be extremely important to their success as an engineering professional. And let them know that the professional development activities of an engineering student organization such as speakers, field trips to industry, and career day programs will complement what they are getting from your Introduction to Engineering course.

Make it easy for your students to join these organizations. Provide them with information about how to join and about upcoming meetings. You could even assign them the task of attending a meeting and writing a critique of what happened there. Invite leaders of these organizations to speak to the class to inform them about the activities of their organization. Make sure they emphasize why they got involved and what they get out of that involvement.




by Richard M. Felder, North Carolina State University

In the period from Fall 1995 to Spring 1997, I coordinated and taught in an experimental freshman engineering curriculum called IMPEC (Integrated Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry Curriculum). One of my jobs was to teach a one-credit fall course designed to:

serve the traditional orientation functions of the freshman engineering course

provide real-world motivation and context for the science and mathematics fundamentals taught in the core freshman courses

provide training in critical success skills.

I started my teaching career in 1969 and by 1995 I thought I knew a few things about how to teach, but I found that teaching first-semester college students offered several new challenges. While I didnt exactly have to scrap the teaching principles and methods that had worked for me before, I had to add some new strategies to my bag of tricks. For what it may be worth, here are some of the things I wish I had known in August 1995. Some of them come from my own experience and many come from watching and conversing with my colleague Phil Dail, who taught the IMPEC chemistry course. Phil is a former North Carolina high school science teacher of the year who has also taught freshman chemistry to several thousand students and is my nominee for the best teacher of first-year college students I have ever seen or heard of.

Principle 1 - Entering first-semester college students were high school students three months earlier.

Many high school students are mature, thoughtful, and industrious, but those are probably not the first three adjectives that come to mind if you are trying to describe the species collectively. A sizable percentage of high school students lack the sound judgment, sense of responsibility, and work ethic needed to do well in a curriculum as demanding as engineering, and theyre not likely to magically acquire these things in the summer between high school and college. A great deal of the well-publicized first-year attrition from engineering undoubtedly stems from the assumption that freshmen should be capable of functioning like seniors from the word go. Thats a really bad assumption.

Principle 2 - Success skills have never been taught to most first-year students, but they (the skills and the students) are teachable.

This observation of course does not come as news to anyone familiar with the "gospel according to Landis." I knew enough of the gospel to know that Studying Engineering was the only text to use for the course I was about to teach, but theres nothing like first-hand experience to bring home the reality of something youve only read about. Why should we assume that we have to teach freshmen the product rule for differentiation or Kirchhoffs law but somehow they are perfectly capable of learning by themselves to manage ridiculous time demands or form themselves into high performance teams? Thats another terrible assumption. If we want our students to learn a complex procedure or master a complex skill, we need to provide them with some guidance.

Fortunately, all skillsincluding the ones we want our students to acquirecan be developed and improved through practice and feedback. If we want students to differentiate complex trigonometric functions, for example, we outline how it is done, give them examples, give them practice problems, correct and grade their efforts, give them more practice problems, and finally test them on their ability to solve similar problems. Not surprisingly, most of them end up knowing how to do it. If we did the same thing to facilitate the development of study, communication, teamwork, or time management skills, the result would be identical: most of the students would master those skills to an extent that most faculty members wouldnt imagine possible. Without structured training and practice, however, forget widespread mastery of high-level skills. What well get is instead what weve been getting and complaining about for years in that familiar faculty lounge grumbling about the lousy quality of todays students.

Principle 3 - The principles of good teaching are also applicable to teaching freshmen

As I noted at the beginning, the things I had learned in 26 years of teaching non-freshmen engineering students still applied in the first-year course. For example,

Write instructional objectives that cover all the skills you want the students to develop and design your class lessons, assignments, and tests to reflect your objectives.

Model the strategies and skills you want your students to develop.

Maximize active, experiential, problem-based learning; minimize lecturing.

Use cooperative (team-based) learning extensively, both in and out of class.

Dont make speed a major factor on tests.

Positively reinforce successful performance.

Principle 4 - The first semester of college is not necessarily one of lifes happiest times

Unless they went to a gifted and talented magnet school, most first-year engineering students were at or near the top of their high school classes and breezed through their courses hardly ever needing to crack a book. It comes as a severe shock when they discover that their classes are filled with people who are as bright or even brighter than they are and that papers that would have earned automatic As and commendations several months earlier now come back covered with red marks and critical comments. They are stunned to learn that unless they really study and do lots of homework outside classeven (gasp) on evenings and weekendsthey get tests back with grades they never even knew existed.

About a month into the fall semester Phil Dail asked the IMPEC students to rate their current stress levels on a scale from 1 (no stress at all) to 10 (unbearable stress) and invited them to explain their ratings. The average rating for the class was between 7 and 8. Most of the students were anxious about grades and many were suffering crises of confidence in their abilities for the reasons just described. That was just the beginning, though. They were also in desperation over homesickness, roommate problems, health problems, financial problems, recent or impending relationship breakups, severe parental pressures to succeed, too much or too little social life, recent or impending parental divorces, sick or dying family members, and intense peer pressure to get involved with alcohol or drugs. When I read those papers I was amazed that so many of the students were able to get out of bed and face the day every morning, let alone concentrate on academics. I reminded myself of this situation periodically throughout the semester. It helped me cut them some slack when they didnt always meet my expecta-tions about attending and participating in class, completing assignments, and studying for tests.

Principle 5 - Attitude is three-quarters of the battle

What makes Phil my nominee for best first-year college instructor Ive ever seen is much more than his deep understanding of chemistry and his ability to transmit that understanding. Watching him in action for two minutes makes three things abundantly clear to his students and to anyone else fortunate enough to observe him. First, he enjoys and cares deeply about what he is teaching and he is absolutely passionate in his desire for his students to share his enjoyment and appreciation. Second, he believes with every fiber of his being that all of them are capable of succeeding. Third he will take it as a personal failure if any of them fail for any reason. His students see this and they respond. He pushes them to understand chemistry, experimental science in general, the connections between theory and experimentation, and the need for clear communication of results, at a far deeper level than their counterparts in the standard curriculum are ever required to reach. He teases, cajoles, challenges, hurls mock threats&and when they succeed he almost falls over himself in his eagerness to praise them. With few exceptions, his students get where he wants them to go.

Phils enthusiasm is contagious and inspired the rest of us on the IMPEC faculty to try to emulate him. It worked. In the end, the students turned in some outstanding written reports on challenging engineering design projects, gave oral presentations of their work that would put most of what goes on at professional conferences to shame, and significantly outscored control groups on a variety of performance and self-confidence measures.

Teaching freshmen can be exasperating, and its easy to conclude that it isnt worth the effort to overcome the obstacles they put in the way of their own learning and growth. The main thing I learned in two years of teaching them is that it is worth the effort. If youre sufficiently patient, thick-skinned, and positive, and if you maintain unshakable faith in their ability to succeed despite themselves, they will reward you by December with understanding and skills you would not have believed possible in September.

Personal Development

Ten Reasons for Setting Goals

As discussed in the Authors Corner, success is "the achievement of something desired or planned." Our effectiveness in working with our students on issues of goal identification and goal clarification is key to their success. Mary Heather Hannah of the University of Arkansas ([email protected]) provides ten reasons for setting goals.

  • Goals give your life direction
  • Goals prevent procrastination
  • Goals ensure the best use of your time and energy
  • Goals encourage enthusiasm
  • Goals let you be specific when seeking help from others
  • Goals allow you to save time
  • Goals help you make and save money
  • Goals help you keep things in perspective
  • Goals give you a standard against which to measure your progress
  • Goals provide a foundation for setting new goals and therefore encourage lifetime growth

Divide your students into groups and have each group discuss one of these benefits. Ask them to come up with specific examples of where they have set a goal and whether they received the benefit. Have each group report out to the class.

Personal Development

Learning to Learn: Using Guided Imagery for Personal Growth

by Mary Heather Hannah, University of Arkansas

Guided imagery can be used by students to resolve conflicts or to set long term goals. Students can be taught the guided imagery process through an exercise conducted in an Introduction to Engineering class. Armed with a simple understanding of the general process, guided imagery can become a powerful tool for students to use on their own for personal growth and development.

The Guided Imagery Process

Relax. Use whatever works for you. Make yourself comfortable. Gently close your eyes. One common relaxation method is to play some soft music and relax individual muscles. Another is to focus on your breathing. As you slowly exhale visualize a black, murky smoke leaving your body as a means of ridding yourself of negative energy. As you slowly inhale picture clear mountain air entering your body as a means of capturing positive energy. The longer you spend doing this, the more relaxed you'll feel.

Concentrate on a specific problem or question. Concentration can be focused verbally, by mentally saying a question repeatedly, or visually, by remembering what the problem looked and sounded like with as much detail as possible. Consider, for example, having problems with your professor. A verbal approach might be to repeat the question, "How can I deal with my professor in a healthy way." On the other hand, a visual approach might be to remember, in as much detail as possible, what your professor looks and sounds like when she or he is behaving problematically. As the concentration deepens, images will form as if in a dream, taking on a life and logic of their own.

Interact with the images before you. More like visions than dreams, guided imagery expects the "viewer" to participate in the unfolding action. One common question to ask of images is what information they have to share essentially the "why is the image here" question. Avoid naming objects in the vision, thus removing their power to help, by asking the images what it's name is. Accept the vision as it is, no matter how strange it may seem, and be assured that there is meaning waiting to be discovered. When no additional images appear or actions occur, return to a normal waking state by slowly moving your body or by gently opening your eyes.

Return to a normal waking state. The vision may be disorienting, and a few simple steps should be followed when dealing with this disorientation. Slowly shake each arm and leg and stretch a bit. Perhaps even try gently jumping up and down after some stretching.

Begin deciphering meaning from the vision. You can determine meaning in a variety of ways including visually, verbally, and kinesthetically. Draw out the image using crayons or markers. Be in touch with the image. What is it like? What are the aspects and/or qualities of the image? How is that image you? As you look at the image, write down responses to it or needs the image may have. Alternatively, a written description of the elements and their interaction may be appropriate. Another possibility is to move as if you were a component of the vision.

An incubation period may be necessary to think about the images and their potential meanings. Often its a good idea to talk to someone about elements in the vision. Others can spark ideas for potential meanings. In addition, a book on dream symbolism may be helpful; however, you are the ultimate judge of what is the correct meaning of an image. Personal relevance is key to unlocking the meaning behind the images.

Application Example: In-Class Personal Development Exercise

An in-class introduction to guided imagery may be helpful to teach students the process and to demonstrate its usefulness. Approximately 30 to 45 minutes will be needed to complete the exercise. Required equipment includes paper, colored pencils or markers, and soft music playing in the background. The following is a sample exercise. Modifications and pauses can be placed wherever appropriate.

Make yourself comfortable. Gently close your eyes. Be in touch with your breathing, the natural rhythm of your breath. Allow any tension to flow through you into the floor, the earth. Feel your attention and energy pulling in. Be in a state of awareness, of attentive energy. When you are doing this activity, simply note what you observe, no analyzing, simply observe, knowing you can work with it later. If your mind is busy saying, but I need to know what this means, reassure it that you will be able to analyze later. For now simply observe and note. Allow yourself the fullness of this experience, knowing that you don't have to do anything about it.

Visualize yourself ten years from now as you think about these questions (Pause between questions. Feel free to skip or to ask other questions.):

Describe where are you living.

Characterize what your friends are like.

Comment on how are you earning a living.

Describe what you do for entertainment and relaxation.

Describe your interests and hobbies.

Discuss the types of knowledge you hope to acquire.

Characterize the direction of your aspirations.

When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and gently stretch, return to a normal waking state. Put the images on paper in a comfortable way.

After images are on paper, small group discussions can be helpful in discovering personal meaning. When small groups return to the larger group, issues of transference in other words, how to apply this method to a different situation can be discussed. Students should be encouraged to try guided imagery on their own.

Two ideas are crucial to the success of this learning: confidence that it will work and belief that this is a valid way of learning. People often think that in learning or writing the only approach to success is to be sitting at a well lighted desk in a very relaxed manner with no distraction. Things that have been seen as alternative ways of learning are now moving towards the center and are becoming acceptable.

An "Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Technology" Course for High School Students - Part II

by Cynthia S. Hirtzel, Dean of Engineering, Temple University

This is the second column devoted to describing a course entitled "Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Technology" developed for high school students (the first column appeared in the Fall 1996 issue of this newsletter). And, as described in that first column, the primary textbook for the course is Studying Engineering by Ray Landis. Much of the philosophy, ideas, and motivation for the course were derived from Landis work, research, and experience with student development and success. The focus for that first column was on our motivation for developing the course, and also included, for example, a brief outline of the course as it was offered to students at a local high school (the Carver High School of Engineering and Science in Philadelphia).

One of the underlying philosophies and motivations for developing the course was to provide a foundation for student success in college, irrespective of whether or not the students taking the course intended to pursue engineering or engineering technology majors in college. Chapter One of Landis book is entitled "Keys to Success in Engineering Study" and, in fact, this chapter presents the key factors to success in any field of study or, for that matter, in any endeavor. As delineated by the author, these three key factorsdetermination, effort, and approachwill enable the student to succeed and achieve the goal of a B.S. degree in engineering or, in my opinion, any field.

On Day 1 of the course, each student was given an exercise entitled, "Getting to Know You." The intent of the exercise was precisely that; i.e., to enable the instructor to quickly gain some meaningful insights into each and every student, his/her goals and objectives, and so forth. In order to focus the students thinking and writing, several specific questions were asked (in addition to allowing the students to write about whatever else they wanted to tell us, the instructors, about themselves). These questions included, among others:

What made you decide to study engineering (or whatever)?

What motivates you?

What do you believe are your special strengths and skills?

What do you expect from this course?

What are your personal goals and objectives, both short-term and long-term?

Students were given about twenty-five minutes to respond to this exercise, and the remainder of that first class was devoted to the usual description of the course syllabus, text and other details.

This exercise then led quite logically to the first assignment from the text. In particular, students were assigned five problems from Chapter One for this first assignment. These problems assigned were: "List ten goals you want to achieve in your lifetime. Classify each as a short-term goal, intermediate-term goal, or long-term goal." [problem 2]; "Have you ever achieved anything that others thought you couldnt through sheer determination? What was it?" [problem 6]; "Do you think that people succeed because of their ability or because of their effort? Which do you think is more important: ability or effort? Why?" [problem 8]; "List five things that you could do to study smarter that you are not currently doing. Pick the two most important ones and try to implement them." [problem 9]; and, finally, "List ten tasks that an engineer might perform (e.g., write a report, conduct a meeting). Rank them in the order that you would most enjoy doing. Explain why you picked your top three." [problem 11]

In addition to turning in these assignments, a class period was devoted to open discussion of these problems and students responses. The discussion was tremendous, and the diversity of opinion on such issues as, for example, whether ability or effort is more important, was amazing and gave me, as an instructor (and listener and observer during the discussions) great insight into the students, their ways of thinking, their modes of action/reaction, and other aspects of their personalities and learning styles.

These problems and students responses were revisited several times throughout the semester and it was interesting to note how, in some cases, individual students changed their initial responses and ideas as the course progressed.

In closing this column, I would like to reiterate how useful this text is for use with high school students, not only for students who intend to major in engineering or engineering technology, but for all students.

Virtual Learning

Engineering Professional Development 101 at UW-Madison

by Don Woolston

Earlier this fall, over 200 engineering freshmen at the University of Wisconsin-Madison heard about the importance of determination, effort, and approach in studying engineering first-hand from Dean Ray Landis who never left his campus in California.

The students were in an auditorium in Engineering Hall in Madison, attending a class called Engineering Professional Development 101, Contemporary Issues in Engineering. In this classroom, Dean Landis appeared live and in person, in the form of a 20 ft tall electronic image transported there over regular phone lines through the technology of compressed video. Likewise, Dean Landis could see the class to whom he was speaking on a TV monitor in a distance education classroom in Los Angeles. While the video was not broadcast quality, it was certainly of sufficient resolution to produce a feeling of presence and interaction.

Dean Landiss messages on the importance of change on the part of beginning students, the importance of students learning how to study engineering, and the importance of determination, approach and effort were absorbed by UW-Madison freshmen, who are encouraged but not required to take EPD 101. The course counts as a one-credit hour liberal elective class in their curriculum. Throughout the semester, students learn about problem solving, teamwork, environmental issues, legal issues, ethical issues, and the importance of diversity and quality in modern engineering practice.

The class also has a strong academic support component, to which Dean Landis message was crucial. The class is team-taught by the staff of the Pre-Engineering Office (Jordan Lee, Linda Schilling, Bonnie Schmidt, Don Woolston, and Eman Zaki). The Office is responsible for the advising and academic affairs of all freshman engineering students at UW-Madison. More often than not, the instructors invite practicing engineers to lead the classes to give the freshmen role models and a first-hand, up-to-date impression of modern engineering practice. Dean Landis book Studying Engineering is recommended for the course.

Did Dean Landis appearance in the class make an impression? Here is what one of the students wrote in her EPD 101 journal:

For the first time in Mondays class, I realized first-hand how impressive the technological resources can be in a place like this. To have someone sitting in California talking to us was really impressive and it made me very glad I chose a school large enough where such things are possible and even common. This one little technological wonder got me thinking about the amazing things that are going on all over this university. It is very exciting to be in a place with so much going on, and I am very happy to be part of it.




Success 101

Success 101 is published twice yearly (May 1 and Dec 1) and mailed to approximately 2,000 engineering educators. We are seeking articles for the Spring, 1998 issue.

Deadline March 15, 1998

Submissions may range from very short (e.g., quotes, exercises, activities) to up to two pages in the newsletter (opinion pieces, success stories, letters to the editor). Submit (preferably by e-mail or on disk) to:

Success 101

c/o Dr. Raymond B. Landis

School of Engineering and Technology

California State University, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA 90032

Telephone: (213) 343-4500

Fax: (213) 343-4555

E-mail: [email protected]




Discovery Press © 2006, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy