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A Comparison of Hands-On versus Remote Laboratory Experience for Introductory Microprocessors Courses

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Distance and Web-based Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.26.1 - 22.26.16



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Paper Authors


Brock J. LaMeres Montana State University

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Brock J. LaMeres is an Assistant Professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Montana State University (MSU). LaMeres teaches and conducts research in the area of digital systems and engineering education. LaMeres is currently studying the effectiveness of online delivery of engineering education including the impact of remote laboratory experiences. LaMeres’ research group is also studying the effective hardware/software partitioning using reprogrammable fabrics. This work involves exploiting the flexibility of modern FPGAs to optimize the performance of a digital system depending on the application need (i.e., performance, power, size, or fault tolerance). LaMeres' research is sponsored by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Montana Space Grant Consortium, the National Space Grant Consortium, and the Office of Naval Research.

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Carolyn Plumb Montana State University

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Carolyn Plumb is the Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects at Montana State University. She has been involved in engineering education for over 20 years.

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A Comparison of Hands-On versus Remote Laboratory Experience for Introductory Microprocessors Courses This paper describes an approach to assessing and improving the understanding ofmicroprocessor systems for electrical and computer engineering students by developingmeasurement-based laboratory experiments. During fall semester of 2009, we assessedthe level of understanding of microprocessor systems on a control group using fivelearning objectives. Students in the control group were enrolled in EE 371,Microprocessor Hardware and Software Systems, a required course in the electricalengineering and computer engineering programs. We measured the level ofunderstanding using a set of assessment tools that includes self surveys, weightedmultiple choice questions, and short answer questions. These assessments set a baselinemeasure on the five learning objectives for our current microprocessor curriculum. In fallof 2010, we introduced measurement-based laboratory experiments using logic analyzers.The measurement-based experiments were introduced in two forms: hands-on andremote operation. Assessment data was collected for both experimental groups andcompared to the control group from fall 2009 to determine (1) if the level ofunderstanding of microprocessor systems is improved by adding hands-on measurementsand (2) if a remote laboratory experience can maintain or improve the level ofunderstanding compared to the control group. In this paper, we briefly summarize the development of the assessment tools usedin this project, including the creation of a grading rubric to achieve a finer resolution onthe scores of the short answer questions. We also report on the comparisons between thethree groups (control group, hands-on measurement group, and remote measurementgroup) in regard to self-reported learning on the five learning objectives from surveyresults. Finally, we present comparisons of direct measurement of learning on the fivelearning objectives from selected multiple choice quiz results.

LaMeres, B. J., & Plumb, C. (2011, June), A Comparison of Hands-On versus Remote Laboratory Experience for Introductory Microprocessors Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17308

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