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Incorporating Oral Presentations into Electrical and Computer Engineering Design Courses: A Four-Course Study

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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

Teaching Communication II

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.729.1 - 24.729.21



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Paper Authors


Nabila A. Bousaba University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Nabila (Nan) BouSaba is a faculty associate with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 2008; she is the senior design instructor for the department, additional courses taught include Basic Circuit for non- majors, and Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship course ECGR4090/5090. Nan Earned her BS and Master Degrees in Electrical Engineering (1982, 1986) from North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University. She mentored Departmental sponsored projects such as UNCC Parking team, IEEE Hardware competition teams, industry sponsored projects from Microsoft, NASA teams and special Innovation and Entrepreneurship teams. She published and presented papers in ASEE conferences in June 2009, 2010, and 2011. Prior to her current position at UNC- Charlotte, Nan worked for IBM (15 years) and Solectron (8 years) in the area of test development and management.

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James M. Conrad University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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James M. Conrad received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer engineering from North Carolina State University. He is currently a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has served as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and as an instructor at North Carolina State University. He has also worked at IBM in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Houston, Texas; at Ericsson/Sony Ericsson in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and at BPM Technology in Greenville, South Carolina. Dr. Conrad is a Professional Engineer, Senior Member of the IEEE and a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP). He is also a member of ASEE, Eta Kappa Nu, and the Project Management Institute. He is the author of numerous books, book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers in the areas of embedded systems, robotics, parallel processing, and engineering education.

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Jean L. Coco University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Jean Coco is the Acting Director of the Communication Across the Curriculum Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Mehdi Miri University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Robert W. Cox University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Incorporating Oral Presentations into Electrical and Computer Engineering Design Courses: A Four-Course StudyAbstract:One measure of continuous improvement in the Electrical and Computer EngineeringDepartment (ECE) at the University of XXXX is survey feedback from alumni on students’workplace readiness. In a recent survey, alumni highlighted oral communication as an area ofweakness. When a group of faculty teaching design courses learned about the University’sCommunication Across the Curriculum (CAC) program, they formed a pilot team to focus onimproving student oral presentation skills in the design courses.The CAC program focuses on the oral and written communication to be an integral role inteaching students reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. That initiative hassince grown into a program that seeks to develop a communication enhanced curriculum (CEC)at the departmental level.The CAC program hosts an annual institute during which departmental teams gain professionaldevelopment in the areas of oral and written communication. At the 2010 CAC Institute, a teamof ECE faculty set the strategic goal to improve ECE students’ ability to clearly convey technicalinformation orally during design presentations. The ECE team then met with the CACcoordinator to develop an oral communication rubric for uniform implementation, thusestablishing a cohesive assessment across the department’s sequenced design courses.Our goal with this approach was to improve oral communication skills among our graduates. Wefocused on three important skills in oral presentation: audience awareness and interaction,message coherence and focus, and message delivery. A team of five faculty (four from ECE andthe CAC director) worked together to generate a rubric to evaluate students oral presentationskills in the sophomore design (ECGR 2252), junior design (ECGR 3157) and senior design(ECGR 3253 and ECGR 3254) courses. The implementation began by using rubrics to evaluatestudent and team presentations in each of the four courses above. We videotaped the presentationfor students to review later so they could learn from their own mistakes. We plan to follow teamsof students from the spring of 2012 until fall 2013, and to track and observe their progress fromsophomore design to senior design; we hope to see positive outcomes so we can justify fullimplementation into other ECE courses by the fall of 2014.This paper describes both our research methodology and the process we followed to implementthis inquiry into oral communication, including a before and after comparison of the students’oral communication skills. The data we have collected is from measurement tools put in place sixyears ago for ABET Student Outcome reporting.

Bousaba, N. A., & Conrad, J. M., & Coco, J. L., & Miri, M., & Cox, R. W. (2014, June), Incorporating Oral Presentations into Electrical and Computer Engineering Design Courses: A Four-Course Study Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20621

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