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Continuous Improvement In Electrical Engineering Student Outcomes

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

ECE Pedagogy and Assessment I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.332.1 - 13.332.8



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Paper Authors


Steven Northrup Western New England College

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Steven G. Northrup is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Western New England College. Prior to joining Western New England College, he was an electronics design engineer for the Ford Motor Company Electronics Division and a software engineer for Nichols Research Corporation. He earned and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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John Burke Western New England College

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Continuous Improvement in Electrical Engineering Student Outcomes


Continuous improvement in the sophomore-level electrical engineering course outcomes and junior-level entrance exam outcomes has been studied at Western New England College. Data has been tracked over a four year period and continuous improvement of students’ knowledge retention between the sophomore and junior-level years has been demonstrated. This paper addresses the methods and curricular changes implemented to affect the improvement. The effects of the curricular changes made in the sophomore-level electrical engineering courses are also analyzed and presented.


Among engineering educators, it is well known that the ABET accreditation process requires engineering programs to demonstrate that they have a continuous improvement methodology in place. Many authors have documented their programs’ continuous improvement efforts and feedback loops. Much of this literature discusses program outcomes and the program level feedback loops1,2,3,4,5. Other authors discuss continuous improvement feedback loops for individual courses5,6,7. Additionally, some authors provide a great deal of insight and detail about proper course design and delivery to satisfy the ABET Engineering Criteria8. These authors8 focus on how to equip students to better achieve the specified course outcomes. There are few papers that focus on tight feedback loops between sequential core courses. This paper will discuss a feedback loop between the core sophomore circuits courses and the first portion of the junior-level microelectronics course.


All sophomore electrical and computer engineering students at Western New England College are required to take a two-semester linear circuits sequence. As juniors, these students must also take an introductory microelectronics course. Prior to the Western New England College’s first ABET accreditation cycle under the EC2000 guidelines, the microelectronics professors approached the linear circuits professors to discuss deficiencies in the skills of the junior-level students. Over the next few years, several meetings were held between the sophomore and junior level instructors with the purpose of discussing competencies that needed improvement and methods to affect continuous improvement in these competencies.

Methods for Continuous Improvement

Communication is very important in any feedback loop. In the case here, communication between the junior level and sophomore level instructors is discussed. Successful completion of the course outcomes from the sophomore class, in theory, should prepare a student for his/her junior year. It was found, however, that even though the sophomores had successfully completed their course work, they were not as well prepared for junior year as the junior level

Northrup, S., & Burke, J. (2008, June), Continuous Improvement In Electrical Engineering Student Outcomes Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4114

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