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A Qualitative And Quantitative Evaluation Tool For An Electrical Engineering Learning Community

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

ECE Pedagogy and Assessment

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.105.1 - 11.105.20



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Paper Authors


Richard Freeman Valparaiso University

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Richard Freeman, BS- Computer Engineering from Iowa State University (1988), MBA from Southern Methodist University (1993), and Ph.D.- Computer Engineering from Iowa State University (2004).

Richard Freeman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Valparaiso University. Dr. Freeman joined the faculty in 2003. As a graduate student and Lecturer at Iowa State University, Dr. Freeman worked with three engineering-oriented learning communities. Dr. Freeman is currently the Vice-Chair of the Calumet Section of IEEE.

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Mani Mina Iowa State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


In the changing technological environment of the early 21st century, all technical and non- technical challenges appear to have multidimensional aspects. On the technical road to success, it is no longer sufficient to be able to solve isolated technological problems. The engineers and technologists of tomorrow need to be armed with the habits, problem-solving approaches, and learning capabilities that are far beyond any other time in human history. They need a dynamic active-knowledge-base, which includes an array of tools, concepts, critical thinking habits, team- building skills, and effective communication methods. The necessary active-knowledge-base is a moving target, rooted in the fundamentals of engineering and communication, and enhanced by a rate of change that is unprecedented in human history.

It is the authors’ belief that the new age requires new ways of training. Engineers have to be problem solvers, team builders, and technological shape-shifters. They need to comprehend the advanced aspects of their areas of expertise. However, the knowledge of the facts and concepts are not sufficient. Their knowledge needs to be complimented by additional learning skills. They need to be lifelong learners in their respective fields. They also need to value the interdisciplinary understanding of the links between their field, other technical disciplines, and society. This challenge provides us with a unique opportunity to design, implement, and experiment with new ways of training and mentoring the engineers of tomorrow. The purpose of the Electrical Engineering Learning Community, EELC, is to provide an educationally nurturing environment to a group of freshmen and observe how such an enhanced environment helps them face challenges within their university experience. Currently a third of the freshman class is enrolled in this community. This effort has started in 2000 and has graduated the first team in 2005. The first year, there were approximately 25 students and thereafter 45 and above. This paper is based on research activities described in a dissertation by Richard Freeman entitled Incorporating TQM and CQI techniques into Evaluation Tools for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Learning Communities.

Learning communities are a concept that has existed, and been practiced, for many years. Since communities are normally viewed as groups of people that share some geographic, religious, professional, or common interests or identities, the thought of a community as a mechanism for teaching and learning, within an educational setting, seems strange. Prospective students and their families usually react positively when the concept is explained, with education, as the common interest. The term is used in multiple contexts today- describing learning communities as a single classroom or course, residence hall program, student-type or interest group, a thematic course of study, or virtual learning environment. [1,2] According to Lenning and Ebbers, learning communities are “an intentionally developed community that will promote and maximize learning”. [3]

The evolution of learning communities, at Iowa State University, started in 1994. In the 2002- 03 Academic Year, learning communities at Iowa State attracted 1,654 students, which represents 39.6% of the first year students. [4] An additional 485 students, identified as other than first year students, participated as well. Approximately 60.6% of first year engineering students participate in at least one learning community. [5]

Freeman, R., & Mina, M. (2006, June), A Qualitative And Quantitative Evaluation Tool For An Electrical Engineering Learning Community Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1284

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