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First Year Engineering Students’ Understanding and Application of Models: Comparing Impact of Catia Vs. Matlab Courses
In order to succeed in engineering careers, students must be able to create and apply models to certain problems. The different types of modeling skills include physical, mathematical, computational, graphing, and financial. However, many students struggle to define and form relevant models in their engineering courses.
The research questions investigated in this study are: (1) What types of models do engineering students identify prior to and after completing a first-year engineering course? (2) How do students’ responses compare across two different engineering courses (a CATIA course and MATLAB course), and (3) How do students’ responses compare across sections that have additional emphasis on modeling (experimental group) and traditional sections (comparison group)?
Through two introductory first-year engineering courses, a CATIA course, and a MATLAB course, students’ responses to a survey about modeling were qualitatively analyzed. The survey was given at the beginning and the end of the courses. The Fall 2019 data analyzed consisted of 560 pre and post surveys for the MATLAB course and 384 pre and post surveys for the CATIA course. Through the surveys, the team looked at how students identify models and how they would apply them before and after the classes.
We are hoping that the students are able to better define and apply models in their engineering courses after they have completed the MATLAB and/or CATIA courses. We also are hoping to see a difference in model identification between the MATLAB and CATIA courses. For example, students that complete the CATIA course identify physical and graphical models more, and students that complete the MATLAB identify mathematical and computational models more than at the beginning of the semester. The survey used for this research has been further validated and implemented across multiple sections of the CATIA and MATLAB course over the duration of three semesters.