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How Computer Animations Make Teaching Complex Topics More Effective And More Efficient

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Using Animation and Simulation in ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.613.1 - 7.613.9



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Kuyath

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

Main Menu Session Number: 3449

How Computer Animations Make Teaching Complex Topics More Effective And More Efficient

Stephen J. Kuyath

UNC-Charlotte Department of Engineering Technology


Complex or abstract topics are sometimes very difficult for students to understand. Many of these topics can be taught in a more efficient and effective manner. Computer animations, both user-controlled and free running, with audio or textual clarification, appeal to a number of learning styles that will help students master the subject. The methods used grew from teaching an introductory course in microprocessors. Students had a difficult time understanding the abstract concept of addressing modes. In a typical semester, up to three weeks of instruction and many example programs would be necessary to cover this topic. Several user-controlled animations with textual explanations were developed to create a course module on addressing modes. The instructor controlled the animations as he explained the concepts in the traditional classroom. An audio explanation was then included in the animations and the package was placed on the web to provide student access for review. Using the animations in class, the instructor was able to provide immediate feedback to the students as questions were raised. This also provided the feedback necessary to improve the animations before they were placed on the web. The advantages to creating the animations were: 1) More efficient use of class time. Less class time was used to introduce addressing modes so that more time was available to discuss advanced topics; and 2) Better student comprehension. Students’ grades and projects improved noticeably. The final product took time to develop. Methods used to develop the animations and some lessons learned will be discussed. Data will be presented, based on students’ grades and opinions that will show that the addition of web-based computer animations made the course more efficient and effective.


For many years the author taught introductory microprocessor courses and found that many students had a difficult time adjusting from the more concrete subjects such as introductory circuit analysis to topics as abstract as microprocessors. Complex microprocessor concepts, such as read and write cycles, addressing modes, and instruction fetch and execute cycles, were very difficult for students to comprehend. A traditional lecture, with chalk and blackboard, was clearly not as effective as it could be. Many methods were attempted to teach this material, including simulations, hands-on activities, and demonstrations, but the method that worked best was the application of user-controlled animations.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Kuyath, S. (2002, June), How Computer Animations Make Teaching Complex Topics More Effective And More Efficient Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10240

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