The effect of improvements in sophomore design instruction on performance in subsequent course offerings

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The chemical engineering curriculum at Rowan University includes a team-taught, multidisciplinary sophomore course sequence called Sophomore Engineering Clinic I and II, intended to teach engineering design and technical communication. Prior to 2005, Sophomore Clinic I featured a semester-long design project. The faculty team made substantial changes to the course in the Fall of 2005 to address various shortcomings in student achievement of the course goals. The new course design featured a 4-week project intended to introduce students to the process of parametric design, followed by a 10-week project similar to the former semesterlong project. The course also implemented an explicit model for the design process; the Converging-Diverging model for design proposed by Dym in 20051. Students were required to document specific design activities, characterize these activities as either convergent or divergent thinking, and demonstrate how their design decisions were informed by both. A previous ASEE publication2 demonstrated that the revised Sophomore Clinic I led to dramatic improvement in student designs, as well as being more popular with the students. This paper will address whether the changes implemented in the Fall of 2005 had a lasting impact beyond Sophomore Clinic I. The other two required courses in the chemical engineering curriculum that have substantial design content are Sophomore Clinic II and the senior capstone design course. The Fall 2004 and Fall 2005 Sophomore Clinic cohorts have now completed the curriculum. This paper presents a comparison of their performances in Sophomore Clinic II and Chemical Plant Design, as well as summarizing the converging-diverging model for design and the specific changes made in the Fall of 2005.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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