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Board 8: Identifying At-Risk Students in a Basic Electric Circuits Course Using Instruments to Probe Students' Conceptual Understanding

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


James P. Becker Montana State University

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James Becker is an Associate Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Montana State University. His professional interests include microwave circuits, radio frequency electronics, pedagogical research, cyberlearning, and distance education.

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Carolyn Plumb Montana State University

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Carolyn Plumb is the recently retired Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects in the College of Engineering at Montana State University (MSU). Plumb has been involved in engineering education and program evaluation for over 25 years, and she continues to work on externally funded projects relating to engineering education.

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Electric circuit analysis is a gateway course for students in the electrical and computer engineering disciplines. Such courses build upon a foundation developed in the first weeks of class, making student success heavily dependent upon a strong command of this initial material. Therefore, it is paramount to identify struggling students early. This has prompted the search for instruments that can reliably identify at-risk students within the first week of class, as it is believed that this will afford sufficient time to provide the necessary assistance for at-risk students to succeed. For the purposes of this research, at-risk students are those identified as likely to receive a D, F, or to withdraw from the course.

This paper examines the use of various tools to help identify at-risk students in an introductory course in circuit analysis. Based on initial analysis, it is speculated that early activities that promote basic metacognitive skill development and the construction of proper mental models are critical to promoting success in the typical circuit analysis course. The features described provide a model for delivering meaningful assistance to at-risk students in such courses.

Becker, J. P., & Plumb, C. (2018, June), Board 8: Identifying At-Risk Students in a Basic Electric Circuits Course Using Instruments to Probe Students' Conceptual Understanding Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30110

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