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Audio-Visual Lab Tutorials to Develop Independent Learners

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Computers in Education General Technical Session II

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.268.1 - 22.268.12

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Paper Authors


Deborah Walter Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Deborah Walter is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She teaches courses in circuits, electromagnetics, and medical imaging. Before joining academia in 2006, she was at the Computed Tomography Laboratory at GE’s Global Research Center for 8 years. She worked on several technology development projects in the area of X-ray CT for medical and industrial imaging. She is a named inventor on 9 patents. She has been active in the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in engineering and currently PI for an NSF-STEM grant to improve diversity at Rose-Hulman.

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Audio-Visual Lab Tutorials to Develop Independent LearnersBackground: Increases in system complexity, the pace of innovation, and thechanging job market have combined to require that graduates have a solidfoundation in engineering fundamentals, measurement, and testing skills regardlessof their engineering discipline. In order to become life-long learners, students mustdevelop a capacity for independent learning. Thus, creating opportunities forindependent learning is arguably the most important part in engineering education.Laboratory exercises are a fundamental part of the education process, helping tocreate experiential learning environments and to build students’ intuition based onthe inter-relationship between theory and practical experimentation. Traditionally,laboratory exercises that instruct students on the operation of instruments and basicmeasurement techniques are presented in a written format. For a novice studentunfamiliar with the equipment, or for whom English is a second language, thesewritten instructions can be confusing and frustrating. Text based instruction is notoptimally geared for the active and visual learning styles of most engineeringstudents. Global learners get frustrated with the tediousness of step-by-stepdetailed instructions. Furthermore students with limited hands-on experience areoften intimidated by the equipment and less willing to experiment on their ownespecially when matched with a more experienced or confident partner.Description of Activities: This paper describes the development and use of audio-visual lab tutorials used in an undergraduate level circuits course. The tutorialssupplement the lab experience by providing basic information on how to operatethe equipment used in the lab. Also specific tasks germane to the first-time or non-experience student are available. Students are asked to review certain videos beforethe lab class. Also tutorials are on-line and available for review while students arein the lab. The pedagogical approach is to use video-based lab tutorials to developindependent learning skills, by accommodating variable levels of experience andlearning styles.Assessment Results:A small pilot study (40 students) was conducted in the fall quarter in 2008-2009. Aset of 10 audio-video based lab measurement tutorials were developed. Anexample of a tutorial might be how to measure current with a digital multi-meter.Students were asked to view the video lab tutorials before lab and they also hadaccess to the tutorials during the lab time. A survey was conducted to assess theirpreference between the video-based lab tutorials and text-based lab tutorials. Theresult of the survey showed that the students preferred the video-based labtutorials. Furthermore, the instructors found they could spend less time instructingstudents. On average students completed the lab exercises faster compared tostudents who did not have access to the videos.A follow-up study is in progress with the goals of assessing the effectiveness of thevideo-based lab tutorials: 1) to meet a variety of student learning styles and 2) toincrease their capacity for independent learning. The video-based instruction hasbeen expanded to include video overviews of the entire lab, including detailedexplanations of common points of confusion or measurement errors. Every otherlab period the students are asked to watch the lab overview video before the lab.They also have access to the videos during the lab time. A survey is conductedeach week to assess their video usage habits, preference for video tutorial overwritten material, and how the video tutorials affect their learning. The surveyresults will be studied in order to compare students habits on the weeks with videosto the weeks without videos. In addition to student preference, and time in the lab,the students’ performance in the lab will be assessed with a lab practical test wherestudents have to demonstrate basic lab skills in an individual setting. The largerstudy size may yield significant correlations between the use of the video tutorialsand the students’ learning style.

Walter, D. (2011, June), Audio-Visual Lab Tutorials to Develop Independent Learners Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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