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Improving Student Intuition Via Rensselaer's New Mobile Studio Pedagogy

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education III

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.861.1 - 12.861.12



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Paper Authors

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Don Millard Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Mohamed Chouikha Howard University

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Frederick Berry Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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


MOTIVATION AND RELEVANCE Although computer literate, today’s engineering students don’t enter college with the same level of hands-on experience with hardware that prior generations exhibited. Experimentation provides students with a sense of where things deviate from theory, offering the opportunity to explore non-ideal conditions; while also giving them the chance to play with hardware and gain the experience and expertise that helps them become successful designers.1,2 For example, electronics technicians who had vast hands-on experience were able to reproduce large portions of complex circuit diagrams after only a few seconds of viewing; whereas novices could not.3 This was due to their ability to chunk the individual circuit elements that functioned together as an amplifier. Expert scientists and engineers are able to quickly recognize patterns of information; for example, physicists recognize problems of river currents and problems of headwinds and tailwinds in airplanes as involving similar mathematical principles, such as relative velocities.4 Gone are the days when students were ham radio operators, played with Erector/LEGO sets, tinkered with electronic kits or simply taken things apart for fun. As a result, students have less “gut intuition” and expert skills than prior generations possessed when entering the job market.5

STUDIO PEDAGOGY The defining characteristics of studio classes are an integrated lecture-laboratory format, a reduced amount of time allotted to lecture; a technology-enhanced learning environment, collaborative group work and a high level of faculty-student interaction. The studio environment historically has employed activities, computer tools, multimedia materials and expensive instrumentation that allow students to actively participate in their own learning and to construct scientific knowledge. A high priority is placed on allowing students to learn directly from their interactions with the physical world through hands-on activities. At the time of its initial incorporation in physics courses at Rensselaer in 1994, this approach had several advantages over the traditional lecture-recitation-laboratory method: • Learn and Apply: Studio eliminated the time separation between the students’ hearing the information and applying it in laboratory. The original Studio concept allowed for approximately one hour of lecture and homework discussion, which was immediately followed by an activity where students solved paper-and-pencil problems, investigated computer simulations, or conducted hands-on experiments. • Access to Professors: The entire class was taught and supervised by a Ph.D. faculty member. Previously, the professor-in-charge had contact with the students only through the lecture portion in which the entire enrollment met in a large lecture hall. Recitation (discussion) and

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Millard, D., & Chouikha, M., & Berry, F. (2007, June), Improving Student Intuition Via Rensselaer's New Mobile Studio Pedagogy Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2169

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