Identification of the Engineering Gateway Subjects in the Second-Year Engineering Common Curriculum Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019 TEMPUS Publications. With increased improvements in retention after the first-year engineering (FYE) experience, the next largest hurdle is the second year, also known as sophomore slump, where there can be even larger losses than in the first-year. Considering attrition when students have an unsatisfactory grade in an engineering gateway course, poor performance in the gateway subjects may cause slump of the sophomores, resulting in many leaving engineering. This study attempted to identify engineering gateway courses as part of the seven second-year engineering (SYE) common subjects (i.e., Multivariate Calculus, Differential Equations, Statics/Dynamics, Materials, Solid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Electric Circuits), while providing a holistic view of engineering student performance in the SYE common subjects. At a southwest public university, course performance and graduation status of 1,581 engineering students who were admitted in 2006 and attempted to take at least one course of the seven SYE common subjects were tracked for 8.5 years. Descriptive statistics were applied to identify trends in students performance in the common subjects and individual courses, followed by subgroup analyses using inferential statistics. Among the seven subjects, Multivariate Calculus was the engineering gateway subject with the highest failure rate, followed by Differential Equations and Statics/Dynamics. Materials had the lowest failure rate. Student performance varied by gender, race/ethnicity, residence, and admission type. As an exploratory study, the findings of this study will enable engineering faculty to consider ways to improve student performance in the SYE gateway subjects, which will hopefully ease sophomore slump and facilitate junior jump.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Yoon, S. Y., Imbrie, P. K., Reed, T., & Shryock, K. J.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM