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Developing Interactive Teaching Strategies for Electrical Engineering Faculty

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.402.1 - 23.402.9



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Paper Authors

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Margret Hjalmarson George Mason University


Jill K Nelson George Mason University

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Jill Nelson is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at George Mason University. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BA in Economics from Rice University in 1998. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for graduate study, earning an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering in 2001 and 2005, respectively. Dr. Nelson's research focus is in statistical signal processing, specifically detection and estimation for applications in target tracking and physical layer communications. Her work on target detection and tracking is funded by the Office of Naval Research. Dr. Nelson is a 2010 recipient of the NSF CAREER Award. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and the IEEE Signal Processing, Communications, and Education Societies.

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Lisa G. Huettel Duke University

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Lisa G. Huettel is an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University, where she also serves as Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the department. She received a BS degree in Engineering Science from Harvard University and earned her MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Duke University. Her research interests are focused on engineering education, curriculum and laboratory development, and applications of statistical signal processing.

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Wayne T. Padgett Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Kathleen E. Wage George Mason University

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John R. Buck University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

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Developing  Interactive  Teaching  Strategies  for  Electrical  Engineering  Faculty      Background and motivationThe goal of this project was to develop a model for faculty collaboration anddevelopment of sharable resources for teaching. Often there is a gap between research-based practices for teaching and what happens in the classroom. While there are manygeneral resources for teaching, we were seeking to create resources specifically forelectrical and computer engineering faculty to address the technical considerations andcontent of their courses. We used a model borrowed from K-12 professional developmentfor teachers wherein each member of a faculty development group wrote a two-pagememo about a teaching practice they had used. Included in the memo were thechallenges, the logistical questions (e.g., time required), and assessment approaches. Weasked that the strategies focus on encouraging interaction in the classroom or engagingstudents in the content more deeply (i.e., anything that was not a lecture or typicalhomework).What was done?The participants in the year one faculty development group were electrical and computerengineering professors with a signals and systems teaching focus. Members wereselected based on their experience in implementing interactive teaching practices. Eachmember focused on a single formative assessment technique that they were using to teachand wrote a two-page memo describing their chosen assessment technique as if they wereexplaining it to a colleague who wanted to try it. The memos were designed to becontent-driven, i.e., to account for specific considerations for electrical engineeringcourses. We held one in-person, day-long workshop with the group, followed by monthlyconference calls throughout the semester as the faculty continued to revise their memos.Detailed notes were taken at all meetings (similar to a transcript). In year two, themembers of the initial faculty development group created groups at their own institutionsincluding engineering and sciences faculty. Qualitative coding of the results for commonthemes and considerations was used to describe the memos.ResultsThe overarching goal of most strategies was to have students go beyond passivelywatching the instructor in the classroom. For example, students completed readingsummaries so they would learn how to synthesize and summarize class material. In-classproblems (from 2 to 15 minutes in length) were designed to require students to attemptprocedures or apply concepts on-the-spot, allowing the instructor to see their learning inprogress. There were constraints such as time (both time in class and time for providingfeedback outside of class) that were realistic challenges encountered across techniques.Conclusions and significanceThe results first provide a model for helping instructors share their formative assessmentteaching practices with colleagues, furthering adoption of research-driven techniques.Second, by analyzing a collection of memos, common themes and unique features ofsuch formative assessments can be found. Our long-term goal is to develop a sharableassessment guide that can be used to improve teaching. The process of designing sharableguides is an opportunity to bring best practices for teaching into a manageable format thatis easily disseminated and absorbed.  

Hjalmarson, M., & Nelson, J. K., & Huettel, L. G., & Padgett, W. T., & Wage, K. E., & Buck, J. R. (2013, June), Developing Interactive Teaching Strategies for Electrical Engineering Faculty Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19416

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