The Engage program: renovating the first year experience at the University of Tennessee

F.T. Gilliam, P.G. Klukken, J.R. Parsons, C.D. Pionke, T.H. Scott, J.E. Seat, F. Symonds, F.E. Weber, D.C. Yoder
FIE '98. 28th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference. Moving from 'Teacher-Centered' to 'Learner-Centered' Education. Conference Proceedings (Cat. No.98CH36214)  
A new initiative is being implemented at the University of Tennessee called the Engage program. This initiative is a comprehensive approach to the educational needs of our entering freshmen, from personal development and socialization needs to a new first year curriculum based on the educational lessons learned in the last eight years by the NSF Coalitions. The program establishes an environment of collaborative learning with faculty as mentors, it integrates the subject matter of the freshman
more » ... ear and teaches problem solving by application, and it also seeks to address the increased retention of engineering students with an emphasis on under-represented groups. Faculty approval has been obtained and the College of Engineering is in the process of implementing these changes. The Engage program was developed with input from a survey of faculty in all departments, comments from the College Board of Advisors, comments from an appointed Faculty Advisory Committee, and information gathered during visits to other institutions with innovative first-year engineering programs. The development team's central thrust was to continue to teach essential skills while finding techniques to address problem solving ability and design methodology along with additional soft skills such as teamwork and communication skills. This has been achieved by integrating five Basic Engineering courses (with a total of 13 credit hours) into two team-taught sixhour courses, effectively reducing duplication of effort and enhancing learning by a more complete integration of the subject matter. Among the unique aspects of the Engage program is the concept of the Engineering Freshman Village. The village will include classrooms, computer classrooms and a computer lab, a free-access hands-on lab space, a team design-project work area, a separate study area, faculty offices, and student-assistant offices, all housed in a single building. Full immersion of the faculty and student staff in this community ensures that resources are always available to meet the varying needs of students, who come from a diversity of backgrounds and consequently bring with them a wide range of individual skills. Ample opportunities are built into the curriculum structure to ensure that students can get the help they need to survive their entry into the rigors of an engineering career. Above all, this is a success-oriented endeavor. Noteworthy curriculum features of the Engage program include the hands-on laboratory where students do "physical homework", practicing the
doi:10.1109/fie.1998.738808 fatcat:62vcklkrozefpkgs2l2yobayaq