Asee peer logo

Assessment of Discrete Concept Knowledge, Integrated Understanding, and Creative Problem Solving in Introductory Networking Courses

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

A Technology Potpourri II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mark J. Indelicato Rochester Institute of Technology

visit author page

Mark J. Indelicato is an associate professor in the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) in the department of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology since 1990. Previously, he was a Large Business Systems Communications Engineer for NEC America, specializing in large scale deployment of voice and data network switching equipment. He teaches in the Master of Science Telecommunications Engineering Technology program and conducts research in Real Time Audio Collaboration (RTAC) and the feasibility, logistics and implementation of live recording sessions carried and delivered over IP networks, Anomaly Detection for Music developing recommender systems for listeners and consumers and 3-D Audio perception, STEM Education related to preconceptions and concept inventories related to telecommunications.
Indelicato holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering (BEEE) from Manhattan College, a Master of Science in Information Systems Engineering (MSISE) from Brooklyn Polytechnic University and is an active member of IEEE, ASEE, and the Audio Engineering Society (AES).

visit author page


Jeanne Christman Ph.D. Rochester Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Jeanne Christman is an Associate Professor in the Computer Engineering Technology Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her expertise is in the area of Digital and Embedded Systems Design and her research focuses on equity in engineering education.

visit author page


George H. Zion Rochester Institute of Technology

visit author page

George H. Zion, Ph.D.
Professor & PLTW Affiliate Director
Rochester Institute of Technology

Dr. Zion is a Professor in the Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Department at Rochester Institute of Technology. Additionally, Zion is the Affiliate Director of RIT’s Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Program.

His research and teaching interests include K-12 STEM education impact on post-secondary success, assessment and evaluation, DBER, and embedded systems software design.

Professor Zion received his B.S. and M.S. from Rochester Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University at Buffalo.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Traditionally, the instructional approach to introductory courses in networking and networking technologies has been to start with an explanation of each of the layers in either the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) and/or TCP/IP models and then to discuss the various technologies assigned to each layer. It is only after completion of these concepts that networks are discussed with respect to their purpose and the technologies and applications that they employ to deliver services and/or content. Heavy in jargon and acronyms, the nature of this instruction is often foreign to students. As such, teaching the many concepts contained within these layered models without contextual understanding frequently creates a disconnection early in the course and, in some cases, alienates students as they struggle to comprehend the plethora of acronyms within this jargon-rich environment. This disconnection can lead to student disengagement, making it more difficult for them to successfully construct the critical knowledge of the course. In this study, the authors compared offerings of a course in networking technologies using two different methodologies. For two semesters the course was delivered traditionally by first defining the models and then digging into the technologies of each layer before presenting the various networks, their function, operation and application. In the third semester the approach was flipped to first present the networks, thus providing context for the layers and the many technologies contained within them. Student performance is compared, with respect to discrete concept knowledge (network model layers) and integrated understanding (network topology and application) and proficiency in applying these concepts to creatively solve problems and develop solutions. This study indicated that a context based, top down approach improved student understanding of networks, network topologies and networking technologies.

Indelicato, M. J., & Christman, J., & Zion, G. H. (2018, June), Assessment of Discrete Concept Knowledge, Integrated Understanding, and Creative Problem Solving in Introductory Networking Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29835

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015