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The University of Toledo

Course Title: Orientation to Engineering Technology
Daniel Solarek

Status: This project originated as part of a collaborative program between NCAT and the Ohio Learning Network, 2004 – 2006. NCAT’s role was to introduce the course redesign methodology to Ohio institutions and assist them in developing a project plan. NCAT was not involved in project implementation; consequently, the project’s status is unknown. For more information, contact George Steele at or the project contact listed above. The project plan serves as a good example of how to think about redesigning a large-enrollment course.

Project Plan:
The University of Toledo (UT) will redesign Orientation to Engineering Technology, which is required of all new engineering technology students and enrolls more than 200 students in two sections each year. The Engineering Technology program is the only open-access program in the College of Engineering , resulting in the largest number of under-prepared freshmen.

In addition, each department in the College of Engineering offers its own version of an orientation course, yet there is considerable overlap of subject matter among them. Across all departments in the College, the current orientation courses range from between one and three credit hours, depending upon the host department. All in all, there are 22 sections of the various versions of the course offered in the fall semester and 1 additional section (Engineering Technology) in the spring semester. Section enrollment in all versions of the orientation course ranges from 35 to110 students depending upon the section. Each of these sections is taught by tenured faculty members. There is a lot of inconsistency among the versions of the course, and multiple faculty spend a lot of time preparing the same content.

A team of faculty representing multiple departments will identify course content and exercises that are common to most college orientation courses as well as most engineering orientation courses such as understanding different engineering fields and professional registration, using computers in general and email in particular, interacting with college faculty, taking a Web-delivered course, acquiring presentation skills, and using the library. Modules addressing these topics will be developed so that they can be included in all Engineering orientation courses as appropriate.

Using the replacement model, Engineering Technology sections will continue to meet with students on a face-to-face basis, but some small to medium sections will be combined and students will meet the instructor every other week as opposed to every week. Other Engineering departments will continue to meet face-to-face as usual but will incorporate the newly developed modules as a supplement to the course.

Class time will become more meaningful in that students will be prepared to engage in in-depth discussions rather than passively attending introductory-level lectures. Class time will also become a more personal experience for students since the instructor will be freed from delivering the more routine content in the classroom and will focus on interacting with students in group discussions or assisting with team problem-solving exercises.

Student learning will be assessed during the pilot by comparing student grades in the orientation courses with a baseline mean score calculated from the previous three years. Because the goal of the course is to prepare students for college, other indicators of success will also be examined. In particular, student overall GPAs (at the end of the students’ first year) will be compared with a three-year baseline as will student persistence (leaving the university or transferring to another college within the university) indicators.

The cost-per-student in for the Engineering Technology course is projected to decline from $111 to $87, a 22% decrease. Cost reductions are anticipated by combining sections and increasing enrollments since students will only meet face-to-face in alternate weeks. Ongoing course development costs will decline for faculty, and content consistency will increase so that all students will have a solid base of information to take to their subsequent engineering majors.



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