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A Comparative Study of Distance Education and Face-to-Face Lab Students

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

ET Pedagogy II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Garth V. Crosby Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

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Dr. Garth V. Crosby is an associate professor in the Technology Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Florida International University in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering, respectively.

Dr. Crosby’s primary interests of research are wireless networks, wireless sensor networks, network security, trust, and active learning strategies for STEM. He is an ABET-ETAC program evaluator (PEV). Also, he is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and Eta Kappa Nu.

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There is a broad consensus in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) academia and accreditation bodies that engineering and engineering technology courses with intensive lab activities can be delivered online. There is ample prior research that assessed the pedagogical effectiveness of lab intensive course delivered in a distance education format. Yet, ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) has only a handful of listed accredited online engineering and technology programs at its website. In an effort to increase accessibility to non-traditional students seeking to advance their career in Electrical Engineering Technology, a new online Electrical Engineering Technology program was recently launched. The development and delivery of the lab component of Digital Fundamentals, one of the courses in this program, is presented. Several research questions were asked prior to and during the development of the program. These questions were as follows: i) Can online courses be delivered while maintaining rigorous accreditation standards? ii) Can teamwork be encouraged and maintained in an online setting? iii) Can the integrity of the assessment processes be preserved? And iv) can the pedagogical effectiveness of the lab experiences be evaluated?

A study of two groups of students in a Digital Fundamentals lab-based course is presented. Both groups of students completed identical experiments and differed only in the environment and test equipment used to conduct the experiments. The on-campus students completed the labs in the regular semester in the physical laboratory facility on campus. The online (distance education) students also completed the lab in the regular semester during the same time period as the on-campus students. However, the online students used breadboards and miniaturized test equipment and portable power supplies. Both groups were supplied with the same components such as integrated circuit chips. Both groups were assigned lab partners and encouraged to work in pairs. The online group utilized webcams and video conferencing software to collaborate with their lab partners. In this paper, we present the findings of this study with respect to the aforementioned research questions. We also compare the performance of both groups.

Crosby, G. V. (2018, June), A Comparative Study of Distance Education and Face-to-Face Lab Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29662

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