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Can Auditory Signal Processing Be Used Effectively In Learning Engineering Concepts?

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.259.1 - 6.259.4

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Paper Authors

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Sr., Edward Rogers

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Hans Kunov

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Session: Multi-Media Session 2793

Can auditory signal processing be used effectively in learning engineering concepts?

H. Kunov, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Toronto

Introduction Engineering is usually taught using visual material and classical lectures, projects, and laboratories. The main auditory component is verbal explanations by the teaching staff. I believe the auditory system represents a rich, underused resource for learning engineering concepts. This became evident after I had introduced multimedia presentations in an acoustics course at the University of Toronto. In that course, I made significant use of sound files to illustrate fundamental and applied concepts, and students appeared to not only enjoy the course more, but also to learn better. The question was, if this could be generalized to other courses, and if it really would improve learning. In order to gain more qualitative information, we tested the following hypotheses: 1. The use of appropriate auditory/visual demonstrations improves the comprehension of a number of important signal processing concepts. 2. There is a set of design principles that allows for efficient and effective choice and creation of such materials.

Methodology Eight 20-minute long modules were developed on separate (and not interrelated) topics. The eight modules were chosen such that half were more theoretical, and half were more advanced. Sliced differently, half were on an introductory level, and half advanced. Finally half were natural candidates for acoustic demonstrations, the other half not. Each of the eight modules is a unique combination of those three dimensions see Table 1 below. Volunteers were recruited from the undergraduate population in the engineering faculty, and were asked to sign a consent form, approved by the University’s Ethics Review Board. The recruitment lecture explained the purpose and method of the experiment, and contained a sample module. During the following four weeks, a rigid presentation schedule was followed: In a given week, a set of two modules was presented during one lecture on two occasions. On the first occasion, Module A was presented with sound files, and Module B without. On the second occasion, A was without sound files, and B with sound. Otherwise the modules were identical. A given student would attend only one of the two lectures in a given week. Questions from the class, relating to the material, during and after the presentations were discouraged. After each module, a simple four-question multiple-choice quiz was administered. Each question had five

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Rogers, S. E., & Kunov, H. (2001, June), Can Auditory Signal Processing Be Used Effectively In Learning Engineering Concepts? Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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