Case study for a first-year seminar: A plan which (mostly) worked

Richard Englund

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A First-Year Seminar is now required for all students entering Penn State University. The goal is to provide interaction between faculty and small groups of students early in every program of study to personalize the university, to get the students to work collaboratively from the start, and to introduce the students to academic life. Some of the offered seminars are general, applicable to any major, and other seminars are included in courses specific to particular majors. An introductory engineering technology course titled "Manufacturing, Materials, and Processes" has been modified to include a seminar and is effectively required for all students entering a range of majors. One of the goals for this particular seminar class is to acquaint the students with the courses in their majors, and how the courses integrate with the goals of the major. A case study was developed based on a damaged lawn mower, and presented in the seminar. The problem presented in the case study was purposely incomplete, with a series of tasks listed which would be necessary to resolve the damage to the lawnmower. The students were required to search the courses of their major to determine which course provides the tools to accomplish the listed tasks. The case study was re-visited in a subsequent week for concluding remarks about the integration of the courses in the major. The case study is presented in this paper, and suggestions for development of other case studies applicable to first-year students. Additional information presented in a subsequent class is described, as is an evaluation of the benefits of the case study as it was presented the first time. Observations for improvement of the effectiveness of case studies in first-year seminars are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1226
Number of pages6
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Event2000 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Engineering Education Beyond the Millenium - St. Louis, MO, United States
Duration: Jun 18 2000Jun 21 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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