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Innovative Content In A New Circuit Analysis Course

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Electrical & Computer Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.743.1 - 15.743.15

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Paper Authors

author page

L. Brent Jenkins Southern Polytechnic State University

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

Innovative Content in a New Circuit Analysis Course


Recently, a new Circuits I course was created during the development of a degree program. This course consists of three semester hours of lecture accompanied by a one semester hour concurrent lab. Lectures contain numerous formula and concept derivations, in keeping with similar courses. Lecture content of note includes an illustrative "derivation" of the superposition theorem. Lab content reinforces and extends the lecture as it teaches students to: solve and plot analysis equations using MATLAB®, simulate circuit behavior, breadboard circuits, and use standard instrumentation. Lab content of note includes a student derivation during the third week of class to find the load resistance for maximum power transfer, an introductory design exercise during the fourth week of class, and a more challenging two-port network design exercise during the eighth week of class.

This paper describes some of the innovative lecture and lab content that has been included in this new course. It also presents an analysis of a student survey that was used to provide a preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of this content. The results of this analysis reveal that students "tended to agree" that the lecture and lab activities described herein assisted their learning.


In 1975, an MIT study published by ASEE1 noted that "educational experience in design should be promoted as early as possible...and should be available as an integrated part of the engineering curriculum." A subsequent push to "integrate design throughout the curriculum"2 led programs to add design content in lower-division (e.g., freshman engineering) courses3,4 and augment design activities in upper-division courses.

Instructional laboratories are a natural setting for design5, but meaningful exercises in lower- division courses pose a challenge. Several efforts have been reported which involve the addition of electronics topics to an introductory circuit analysis course to improve student engagement, especially in the course's concurrent lab6-9. This paper describes efforts to embed derivation and design assignments into an "electronics-free" circuits course, primarily in its laboratory component.

Six sections follow: a lecture excerpt, three laboratory exercises, an assessment section, and a conclusion. Bold subtitles are used to identify the start of each of these sections. In the interest of clarity, the laboratory exercises will be referred to as Labs 1, 2, and 3. To improve readability, blanks that would normally be included for student use have been omitted.

The lecture excerpt and laboratory exercise sections include various sub-sections that are presented herein using italicized sub-headings. The Overview sub-section provides interpretive information to the reader, while the Benefits sub-section summarizes the benefits provided by the exercise. The Objectives, Procedure, and Analysis sub-sections comprise the heart of the material used by the student to perform the lab exercises—readers who seek a quick first read of the paper can skip these sections without loss of continuity. A Design Completion sub-section has been appended to the end of Labs 2 and 3 to summarize the design activities that these labs require the student to perform.

Jenkins, L. B. (2010, June), Innovative Content In A New Circuit Analysis Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

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