June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Electrical and Computer
With the recent popularity of the active learning paradigm, educators are increasingly interested in how collaborative and competitive group activities facilitate learning and motivation. In the case of engineering, the use of these techniques in a laboratory environment has not been studied in detail. As part of an inquiry-based multiuser communications and jamming exercise, we attempt to study the impact of collaboration and competition on a group of senior-level electrical engineering students.
In this lab activity, students are tasked with creating a wireless, acoustic digital transceiver using MATLAB and off-the-shelf components. Multiple student groups are given a single shared speaker which serves as a transmitter, broadcasting the summation of all groups' signals. In addition, each group is provided a microphone, which acts as a receiver and allows each group to decode the unique information intended for them.
The first part of the lab is intended to model the downlink in a cellular basestation, wherein teams of students are encouraged to work together to make the system as efficient as possible with a design goal of maximizing the minimum rate. Collaboration is incentivized by a grading scheme that rewards the entire class an increasing amount of points as the error-free minimum rate increases. In the second part of the lab, teams compete with one another, and points are assigned based on which team achieves the highest individual data rate, subject to a peak power constraint. Student teams are encouraged to create robust receivers through software improvements, and are told that they may interfere with their classmates’ transmissions by sending a malicious signal. In both parts of the lab, students are not provided with an explicit list of procedures to follow, but are instead prompted to experiment and investigate the best solution on their own.
Survey results suggest this open-ended, hands-on approach is an effective teaching and learning technique for understanding multiuser communications systems. The results also show that while introducing collaboration and competition generally had a positive effect on students’ learning experiences, this method introduces complexities and may have a negative impact on certain individuals who feel demotivated or pressured to do more work than others as a result. Additionally, students widely reported that the collaborative portion of the exercise was preferable, indicating that competition may not motivate students as much as intended. Survey data is analyzed, and a discussion of possible extensions of the approach are included.
Basinet, K. R., & Klein, A. G., & Martin, R. (2017, June), Board # 47 : On Student Collaboration and Competition in an Inquiry-based Multi-user Communications and Jamming Exercise Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27862
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