The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted educational systems across the globe, including K-12 education and higher education. As students graduate high school and transition into college, they will likely have gaps in their knowledge base, which will impact their readiness for engineering coursework. Moreover, there is a need for more students in engineering, especially women and people from underrepresented groups, in order to boost the U.S. engineering and technology workforce, increase innovation, and keep the U.S. competitive on a global scale. If students have gaps in their readiness for undergraduate engineering work, those gaps may impact their desire and readiness to pursue an engineering degree, as well as their retention through engineering degree programs. It is imperative that we understand what gaps students have in their knowledge so that we understand how to support their successful completion of engineering degree programs. Towards this end, this research project will investigate the following research question: 1) What impacts has the COVID-19 had on first- and second-year engineering students’ readiness for engineering coursework, according to faculty who teach first- and second-year engineering courses?
This project is an exploratory qualitative pilot study using interviews with faculty who teach first- and second-year engineering courses at a large, public, land-grant university in the mid-west. We use thematic analysis to generate themes that characterize the impacts of the pandemic on student readiness for engineering coursework. This study is expected to yield results that can inform how to better support first- and second-year engineering students whose readiness was impacted by the pandemic. Our results will form the basis of a larger-scale study that investigates the relationship between the pandemic, student readiness, and student retention.
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