Goulet, John A.
Miller, Judith E.
The "bridging model" is a new teaching model developed to help students make connections between basic mathematics and science concepts learned in early courses and the utility of those concepts in the students' major disciplines. This study assessed the effectiveness of the "bridging model" based on students' performance in courses and change in students' attitudes towards engineering and science. The Tukey statistical test of the difference of the means for multiple populations was used to conduct our analysis on both the course performance and attitudinal survey data. Student performance was assessed by comparison of exam and final course grade data from courses taught first without and then with bridging. The analysis of the bridge from Calculus III to Introduction to Programming in C shows that students who were bridged performed significantly better on exams in the bridged-to courses in the bridged year. The results of the bridge from Calculus III to Chemistry III showed no significant increase in student performance. The Linear Algebra bridge to students' majors demonstrated significant improvements in students' performance on the final exam. The data shows no significant decline in performance of the students in any population. The students' attitudes were assessed using the Pittsburgh Engineering Attitude Survey. The survey was administered to students before the fall semester and after the spring semester of the freshman year to assess attitude changes after a year of coursework which may have included bridging. The survey results demonstrated increases in bridged students' self-confidence in their problem solving and basic engineering knowledge and skills. Bridged female students showed a positive change in their impression of engineering. Non-bridged students did not show any significant attitude change. We believe that our results demonstrate that the bridging model is a viable and worthwhile format for course development. The format seems to offer students a way to learn material more in depth without detracting from their learning. It also seems to have a positive effect on students' attitude towards engineering and in no case does bridging detract significantly.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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