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Assessing The Effectiveness Of A Project Based Laboratory Manual For A C Programming Course

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Three P's in Introduction to Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.242.1 - 8.242.9



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Paper Authors

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Kristine Craven

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

Session 3453

Assessing the Effectiveness of a Project-Based Laboratory Manual for a C Programming Course

Kristine K. Craven

Tennessee Technological University


Programming for Engineers, Basic Engineering (BE) 1120, is a first-year course at Tennessee Technological University that is taught in a lecture/laboratory format. Traditionally the laboratory manual has been comprised of unrelated randomly selected exercises chosen mainly from the homework sections of the course textbook. A new project-based laboratory manual has been developed utilizing the solution to a complex engineering project, where each new section of the project solution is presented to coincide with the programming material being taught in the lecture portion of the class. In this work the change in laboratory manual format is assessed and the benefits and drawbacks are discussed.

For the 2001-2002 academic year, the students in BE 1120 were divided into two groups, of close to equal size, where one group used the traditional laboratory manual and the other group was given the new project-based laboratory manual. At the end of each semester, the students anonymously completed a survey to ascertain their opinion of the laboratory manual and its role in their learning of the material covered. The final grades received by the students were also examined, with the results indicating that the traditional laboratory manual group had an average grade point average (GPA) that was almost two-tenths of a point higher than the project-based laboratory manual group. Since the groups were chosen randomly, other possible factors such as academic preparedness could be shown to contribute to the higher GPA value seen. It is concluded that the type of laboratory manual used did not significantly affect the overall performance of the students.


There are as many approaches to teaching computer programming, as there are programming languages to teach. One method involves presenting the syntax and logic structures along with basic background information in a lecture environment and then implementing these concepts in a laboratory setting. The effect of the laboratory experience on the learning process is a function of the specific content of the laboratory exercises comprising the laboratory manual. One possible approach to the material presented in the laboratory manual utilizes unrelated simple programs found mainly in the homework exercises of the course textbook or developed by the instructor. Another possibility is to incorporate into the laboratory manual a more complex

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Craven, K. (2003, June), Assessing The Effectiveness Of A Project Based Laboratory Manual For A C Programming Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12580

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