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Experiences with Electric Circuit Analysis in a Blended Learning Model

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Computer-Based Learning Models

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.574.1 - 24.574.17



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Paper Authors


Michael G. Morrow University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Michael G. Morrow, M.Eng.E.E., P.E., is a Faculty Associate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. He previously taught at Boise State University and the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the founder and President of Educational DSP (eDSP), LLC, developing affordable DSP education solutions. He is a senior member of IEEE and a member of the ASEE.

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Experiences with Electric Circuit Analysis in a Blended Learning ModelThis paper discusses our experiences using a new learning model in our introductory electriccircuit analysis course. This course has historically been viewed as a ‘weed out’ course; manyfaculty members considered a student’s ability to succeed in that course a strong and necessaryindicator of future performance. This high-enrollment course was usually taught in a pure lectureformat, and student work was done independently outside of class. While many students were infact able to succeed in this environment, the approach has two serious shortcomings that we feltwe needed to address. First, the student experience with the course dissuaded a number ofstudents from continuing to pursue the discipline. Studies on engineering retention indicate that asignificant number of those students were most likely quite capable of succeeding in engineering,but they chose not to due to strong dissatisfaction in early course experiences. A second issuewas the lack of content retention shown by our students in later classes, where learned materialhad been either lost or severely degraded in a relatively short time. To address these problems,the electric circuit analysis course was converted a blended learning model in Spring 2012.The 4-credit electric circuit analysis course covers DC and AC circuits, and was previouslytaught in a four lecture per week format. The classes typically have 80-100 students in a singlesection. In the blended learning implementation, there are two lectures per week (Monday andWednesday), and two collaborative learning sessions per week (Tuesday and Thursday). Thecollaborative exercises are held in a new purpose-built facility, the Wisconsin Collaboratory forEnhanced Learning (WisCEL). This paper describes in detail the pedagogical structure employedin reducing course lecture content, developing and administering collaborative exercises,managing the grading workload, and in developing other course resources for students.The performance of the blended learning implementation was analyzed along two dimensions.First, student performance on examinations was compared to the previous semester. Studentsdemonstrated significantly better performance, and a marked change in the distribution ofstudent grades was also observed. Secondly, students in the course were also surveyed to gaugethe course’s effect on improving student satisfaction, and to help refine the learning model infuture iterations.Finally, recommendations are given to aid others who may be considering such a change,including reflections on lessons learned and suggested best practices for implementation.Planned future evolution of the course is also discussed.

Morrow, M. G. (2014, June), Experiences with Electric Circuit Analysis in a Blended Learning Model Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20465

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