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Evaluation of the Effect of Wireshark-based Laboratories on Increasing Student Understanding of Learning Outcomes in a Data Communications Course

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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

Integrating Curriculum and Labs in Engineering Technology Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.554.1 - 23.554.13



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Paper Authors


Craig A Chin Southern Polytechnic State University

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Craig A. Chin received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Florida International University in 2006. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the electrical and computer engineering technology at Southern Polytechnic State University. His research interests include biomedical signal processing, pattern recognition, and active learning techniques applied to engineering education.

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Leigh Sharma Southern Polytechnic College of Engr and Engr Tech


Garth V Crosby Southern Illinois University Carbondale

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Dr. Garth V. Crosby is an assistant professor in the Technology Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He obtained his MS and PhD degrees from Florida International University in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering, respectively.
Dr. Crosby’s primary interests of research are wireless networks, wireless sensor networks, network security and active learning strategies for STEM. He has served as a reviewer for several conferences, magazines and journals publications, including IEEE INFOCOM, and IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and Eta Kappa Nu.

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Evaluation of the Effect of Wireshark-based Laboratories on Increasing Student Understanding of Learning Outcomes in a Data Communications CourseA 3000-level course in data communications is a part of the curriculum in the electrical engineeringtechnology program at my institution. Some of the primary learning outcomes of the course section thatinvestigates the data link layer are: to identify the different fields of a data link layer (Ethernet) frame, todescribe how the TCP/IP protocol suite utilizes physical, logical and port addresses to send/receive data,and to describe the operation of the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) in facilitating data link layercommunication. The content relevant to these outcomes is presented in class via a lecture format. Inthese lectures, frames are represented in a simplified graphical format. Recently, a laboratory using theWireshark packet-sniffer application has been added to deepen student understanding of these learningoutcomes. The laboratory involves investigating the function of the ARP by examining the contents of anARP request packet and an ARP reply packet produced when a user uses a web browser to access a filefrom a website. The laboratory also involves analyzing the different fields of an Ethernet frame as well asthe address fields of the network layer and transport layer packets that the frame encapsulates. It isexpected that the interaction with actual frames that this laboratory provides, should result in an increasedability to accomplish the above-stated learning outcomes. To investigate this hypothesis, studentknowledge is assessed by requiring them to take a test prior to the laboratory session and immediatelyafter the session. The pretest and posttest scores are analyzed to determine if there is statistical significantdifference between them. Also, students are required to complete a questionnaire that asks them toprovide a subjective assessment of what aspects of the laboratory helped to increase their understandingand what aspects of the laboratory could be improved. A discussion of these responses is given.

Chin, C. A., & Sharma, L., & Crosby, G. V. (2013, June), Evaluation of the Effect of Wireshark-based Laboratories on Increasing Student Understanding of Learning Outcomes in a Data Communications Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19568

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