Mary Brake's chapter details her efforts to introduce a computational software package (Mathlab) in her Introduction to Engineering Technology course. Mary started off her scholarship of teaching and learning project interested in why women and minorities tend to drop out of engineering programs nationwide; she anticipated it is caused by lack of confidence these students have that they can "make it" in such a program. Along the way, Mary's focus widened as she discovered that the problem may not exactly be lack of confidence; her students continued to feel their ability to solve complex problems even in the face of clear evidence that they could not.
Mary's big goal has become to help students learn to think like "experts." She wants her students to excel at using information they have previously learned in solving complex problems. This investigation speaks to how Mathlab can help students learn to do this; ultimately, the goal is to help student feel (deservedly) more self-confident in their ability to do the math necessary for an engineering technology program. From a practical standpoint, this study suggests that Mathlab would be most valuable to students if it were introduced early in the program. Mary also suggests it might prove more valuable when not crammed into an already full class such as hers.
Brake, Mary L.
"Matlab as a Tool to Increase the Math Self-Confidence and the Math Ability of First-Year Engineering Technology Students,"
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at EMU:
Vol. 1, Article 5.
Available at: http://commons.emich.edu/sotl/vol1/iss1/5