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An Experiment to Enhance Signals and Systems Learning by Using Technology Based Teaching Strategies

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Improvements in ECE Signals and Systems

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.158.1 - 24.158.13

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Paper Authors


Berenice Verdin University of Texas at El Paso

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Dr. Berenice Verdin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for Teaching Exellence and Innovation at the University of Texas at El Paso. She graduated with a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2005. She presented her research results at the UTEP Student Research Expo, the UMET Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the SPIE Symposium on Defense and Security. She also presented her research work to the National Science Board and the Director of the National Science Foundation. As a Ph.D student she worked on a project sponsored by Army Research Laboratories. In addition, she worked as a graduate intern for Locked Martin Corporations. She presented her research results on SPIE Symposium Photonics + Applications. She earned her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering in August 2009. After completing her Ph.D, Dr. Verdin taught several electrical engineering courses at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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Ricardo Von Borries University of Texas, El Paso

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Patricia A. Nava P.E. University of Texas, El Paso

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Andrew C. Butler Duke University

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AbstractUTEP has teamed with the “Signal Processing Education Network,” (SPEN), which consists ofRice University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology,National Instruments (NI), Texas Instruments (TI), Hewlett-Packard (HP), and the Institute forElectrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Society. SPEN, an NSF-sponsored effort, is based on four technologies: Connexions, interactive examples, Quadbasequestion banking system and OpenStax Tutor. It seeks to develop materials that allow educatorsto break away from traditional textbook-lecture-homework education, and create a newframework based on an engaged community of educators, students, and industry professionalsthat continuously collaborate, improve, and explore interactive content. The initial effort focuseson one strategic subdiscipline in electrical engineering, signal processing, but the framework canbe applied to engineering education at all levels: high school, university undergraduate andgraduate, as well as continuing education.During the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters, UTEP implemented the use of Connexions,interactive examples, Quadbase question banking, and OpenStax Tutor in a sophomore course oncontinuous-time signals and systems. We organized existing material pertinent to the course intolearning modules, created problems with associated solutions in Quadbase and developedInteractive Lablets in Mathematica to help students more effectively learn concepts with whichthey had difficulties. In addition, we used the assessment system provided by OpenStax Tutor totrack and evaluate students’ progress.OpenStax Tutor facilitates the instructors’ work by automatically grading student work andexporting the grades to a spreadsheet. It also provides statistics of student performance, e.g.reporting the time taken to complete specific assignments. These statistics enable assessment ofoverall class performance as the semester progresses.The feedback from students, gathered through a modified version of the SALG instrument,demonstrated that they enjoyed and learned the material better by using these multipletechnologies. The assessment of the learning gains of students in the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013semester demonstrated an increase in the assessed learning outcomes compared to the Summer2012 semester where these tools were not used.The use of multiple technologies can address multiple situations in engineering education:limited opportunity for active learning; limited opportunity for laboratory activities that areinteresting or relate to students’ ideas about their “real world;” lack of interactive learningdemos; textbooks providing limited connections among topics; development of textbooks andcourse materials limited to a small number of authors; and rising textbook costs that present afinancial burden for students, especially low-income students.

Verdin, B., & Von Borries, R., & Nava, P. A., & Butler, A. C. (2014, June), An Experiment to Enhance Signals and Systems Learning by Using Technology Based Teaching Strategies Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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