Socialization and Curriculum Integration: Emergent premises in student experiences of a first-year electrical engineering course
MetadataShow full item record
Introduction The integration of project based learning (PBL) into engineering curriculums has received growing interest in the engineering education research literature . One particular area of interest is the first year in engineering programs , as it establishes the cognitive, affective, and conative foundation for students and is also closely linked to student retention and academic success . At the same time, many engineering programs remain focused around theory heavy courses that provide little coupling to actual engineering practices in the first year. Balancing engineering science and engineering practices is challenging, and students often find it difficult to establish connections between different concepts, practices, and areas of engineering . Furthermore, first year engineering students at today’s universities often are enrolled in large anonymous courses on e.g. math, mechanics, and electronics with hundreds of other students across different engineering disciplines. Within this environment, it is difficult for the students to identify themselves as engineers in making, and be part of a disciplinary socialization process right from their first semester . The context for this study is a re-designed electrical engineering program that aims at providing students with opportunities to learn engineering practices right from the start, while at the same time maintaining some of the traditional large, theory heavy, courses. Here, we explore how first year students perceive their learning environment and their transition to university. Using a national student survey as an entry point, we briefly compare the program to other electrical engineering programs in Norway before exploring the how and why of students’ experiences in detail through in-depth interviews. A thematic qualitative analysis approach leads to the identification of two emergent themes that are central for the students: socialization and curriculum integration.