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A Concept Inventory To Probe Student Understanding Of Basic Electronics

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Accreditation and Related Issues in ECE

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.29.1 - 7.29.8



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Paper Authors

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Benjamin Flores

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Benjamin C. Flores, Ruby J. Fabela Electrical and Computer Engineering Department University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, Texas 79968


We have developed a concept inventory that probes student understanding of basic electronics. The concept inventory consists of twenty-five multiple-choice questions that can be answered by a junior electrical engineering student in approximately ten minutes. Each entry in the inventory is written in language that is accessible to a literate public. The working hypothesis was that most of the students would be familiar with these concepts through exposure in lower division electrical engineering, calculus, and calculus-based physics coursework. In selecting the concepts, we drew upon the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy to validate that the majority of the concepts are truly essential to a broad grasp of popular science and technology. Our practice has been to administer the inventory at the beginning and end of the semester to cadres of students that enrolled in an analog electronics course. We will present data collected over the last two semesters to illustrate major misconceptions and significant gains obtained through the course.

1. Introduction

ABET 2000 student outcome criteria stress the need for assessment of student learning using instruments other than proverbial midterm and comprehensive examinations. Nationwide, engineering faculty are addressing this need and considering assessment tools including pre-post knowledge evaluation, one-minute essays and student portfolios. Pioneering work in the area of pre-semester and post-semester knowledge assessment has been utilized to demonstrate the effectiveness of active learning. The force concept inventory1 is an example of this type of assessment tool. More recently, this type of assessment has demonstrated that student learning improved via the implementation of a learning community environment in an experimental junior-level electrical engineering curriculum 2. Our intent is to develop and test a concept inventory that incorporates fundamental concepts in electronics and to utilize this tool for continuous quality improvement of a traditional electrical engineering curriculum.

From a higher level learning perspective, the two main purposes of the proposed electronics concept inventory are:

o to define the key information (i.e. concepts) that is important for electrical engineering students to understand and remember; and o to assess the level of understanding of this key information.

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Flores, B. (2002, June), A Concept Inventory To Probe Student Understanding Of Basic Electronics Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10579

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