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In Class Demonstrations To Make Electrical Circuits Easier To Understand

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Conference

2004 Annual Conference

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

9.712.1 - 9.712.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/13904

Download Count

39

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Paper Authors

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S. Natasha Beretvas

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John Pearce University of Texas at Austin

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Kathy Schmidt The University of Texas at Austin

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

Session 1793

In-Class Demonstrations to Make Electrical Circuits Easier to Understand

John A. Pearce, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kathy J. Schmidt, College of Engineering Faculty Innovation Center, S. Natasha Beretvas, Department of Educational Psychology The University of Texas at Austin

Abstract The National Instruments ELVIS device allows the instructor to show circuit solutions in real time using real physical devices, with attendant uncertainties in component values, offset voltages, leakage currents, and noise. These demonstrations make the circuit behavior real during lecture rather than being completely a mathematical calculation, a distinct advantage for that subset of students whose learning styles are more practically based rather than conceptual. Students in a senior elective, Electronics II, were exposed to in-class demonstrations of lecture topics during the summer 2003 semester. Their reactions to changes in the learning environment were evaluated using survey responses. In general the response was positive with students’ recognition of the value of in-class demonstrations to help them visualize concepts and with students advocating further use of ELVIS in other Engineering courses. Motivation One reason that students have a difficult time understanding the functional aspects of electrical circuits is that they are difficult to visualize: you can't see electrons, but you can see what they do in real devices. Grasping concepts like electrical circuits or even basic electricity is not an easy task for many students 1. Engineering students’ difficulties are often compounded by traditional instructional methods that fail to engage their thinking 2. Instruction that goes beyond the traditional lecture / class notes model is needed to help students reason about topics that are not in their everyday experience and thinking. One instructional strategy that helps engineering students go deeper in their thinking about the functional aspects of electrical circuits is showing these effects through the use of real-time devices. We have not been able to use real-time demonstrations in class effectively, and certainly not in our larger classes. A real-time prototyping and development system that is an ideal teaching aid, called ELVIS (Electronics Laboratory Virtual Instrument Suite) 3 has been developed by National Instruments (Austin TX). This apparatus uses real circuit devices on a breadboard connected to a PC through ADC (Analog Digital Conversion) hardware and virtual instruments (on the PC) to display the results of circuit measurements in real time. The instruments are realized completely in software and represent a nearly complete instrument suite, including arbitrary waveform generators and noise sources. The hardware can be connected to a standard laptop PC over its PCMCIA bus, and can thus be simultaneously projected onto existing classroom video systems. This allows the instructor to show circuit solutions in real time using real physical devices, with attendant uncertainties in component values, offset voltages, leakage currents, and noise. With ELVIS, circuit behavior can be seen by students during lecture rather

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education

Beretvas, S. N., & Pearce, J., & Schmidt, K. (2004, June), In Class Demonstrations To Make Electrical Circuits Easier To Understand Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13904

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