Identifying and Removing a Calculus Prerequisite as a Bottleneck in Clemson's General Engineering Curriculum

Authors

  • Matthew W. Ohland,

    Corresponding author
    1. General Engineering Clemson University
      104 Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-0902; telephone: 864-656-2542; fax: 864-656-1327; e-mail: ohland@clemson.edu.
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    • Matthew W. Ohland is an Assistant Professor in Clemson University's General Engineering program. He served as the Assistant Director of the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED engineering education coalition and as an NSF postdoctoral fellow. His research focuses on engineering education, and he has spoken and conducted workshops nationally and internationally. As the elected chair of the Executive Council of Tau Beta Pi, he will serve as the Association President from 2002 to 2006. He is also the Chief Advisor of Clemson's chapter. Dr. Ohland received a B.S. in Engineering and a B.A. in Religion in 1989 from Swarthmore College. He earned M.S. degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Mechanical Engineering in 1991 and in Materials Engineering in 1992. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a graduate minor in Education from the University of Florida in 1996.

  • Amy G. Yuhasz,

    Corresponding author
    1. General Engineering Clemson University
      104 Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-0902; telephone: 864-656-0329; fax: 864-656-1327; e-mail: ayuhasz@clemson.edu.
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    • Amy G. Yuhasz is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Clemson University's General Engineering Program. Dr. Yuhasz received her B.A. in Mathematics from Huntingdon College (1997), M.S.I.E. (1999) from Clemson University and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University (2003). She is presently a postdoctoral fellow in General Engineering at Clemson University (2003) focusing on statistical analysis of freshman retention programs. Prior to joining the General Engineering department, she was a visiting professor of Industrial Engineering at The University of Alabama specializing in statistics and engineering economics (2001).

  • Benjamin L. Sill

    Corresponding author
    1. General Engineering Clemson University
      104 Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C. 29634-0902; telephone: 864-656-2541; fax: 864-656-1327; email: sbenjam@clemson.edu.
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    • Benjamin L. Sill is the Director of Clemson University's General Engineering Program. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, where he served as a faculty member for 23 years. His research focuses on atmospheric boundary layers and storm effects on structures. He received his B.S. and M.S. from N.C. State University and his Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic University.


104 Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-0902; telephone: 864-656-2542; fax: 864-656-1327; e-mail: ohland@clemson.edu.

104 Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-0902; telephone: 864-656-0329; fax: 864-656-1327; e-mail: ayuhasz@clemson.edu.

104 Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C. 29634-0902; telephone: 864-656-2541; fax: 864-656-1327; email: sbenjam@clemson.edu.

Abstract

A review of prerequisites often reveals that reasons for requiring a prerequisite may no longer prevail due to curriculum or course changes. Based on a study of a curriculum bottleneck unrelated to required mastery, the prerequisite structure in Clemson University's General Engineering curriculum (the common first-year curriculum for all engineering students) was changed so that Calculus I could be taken in the second semester. Student record analysis shows both the magnitude of the bottleneck prior to the policy change and the effect on student enrollment practices after the policy change. Longitudinal studies show a statistically significant improvement in retention in engineering adding to the body of evidence that indicates that it is important to retention that students start college mathematics at a level for which they are prepared.

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