Researchers propose curriculum changes to retain engineering students

February 21, 2012

At the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, education researchers proposed ways to improve the retention of engineering students. Led by incoming University of Saskatchewan president Ilene Busch-Vishniac, the Deconstructing Engineering Education Programs project aims to revise the mechanical engineering undergraduate curriculum to make the field more able to attract and retain a diverse community of students. The initiative seeks to reduce and reorder the prerequisite structure linking courses to offer a greater flexibility for students. A less-radical approach would be to enhance teaching techniques in existing courses, said another symposium delegate, who noted that research points to 3 practices that improve retention of engineering students: using everyday examples to which students can relate; working to improve students' spatial-visualization skills; and improving faculty-student interactions. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)