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Integrating Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in a Laser Systems Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching Physics or Engineering Physics I

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.903.1 - 22.903.6



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Paper Authors


Patricia F. Mead Norfolk State University

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Patricia F. Mead, Ph.D., earned the doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Electrophysics from University of Maryland, College Park, in 1994. She joined the faculty of Norfolk State University (NSU) as Professor of Optical Engineering in summer 2004. Since her appointment, Dr. Mead has been active in the development of innovative curricula for Optical Engineering courses, and she serves as Education Director for the NSF funded Nano- and Bio-Inspired Materials and Devices Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST). Dr. Mead also maintains an active laboratory group that develops laser systems for optical sensing and LIDAR applications. Dr. Mead has previously served as Senior Program Officer at the National Academy of Engineering and served as study director for the pivotal report, Engineering of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century.

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Ruth A. Streveler Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Ruth A. Streveler is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Before coming to Purdue she spent 12 years at Colorado School of Mines, where she was the founding Director of the Center for Engineering Education. Dr. Streveler earned a B.A. in Biology from Indiana University-Bloomington, M.S. in Zoology from the Ohio State University, and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Her primary research interests are investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering science and helping engineering faculty conduct rigorous research in engineering education.

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Lauren D. Thomas Virginia Tech

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Candace A. Cobb Norfolk State University

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Integrating Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in a Laser Systems CourseThree inter-dependent elements undergird effective teaching and learning in STEM educationalsettings: curriculum (content), instructional practices (pedagogy), and assessment. Theseelements should be explicitly linked in as educators design courses and educational materials.Norfolk State University established Bachelor and Master of Science programs in OpticalEngineering in fall 2003. Optical Engineering is an emerging discipline that bridges Physics andElectrical Engineering principles, and currently only five ABET accredited Optical Engineeringprograms exist in the U.S. As a newly developing area, the curricular structure of U.S. OpticalEngineering programs are somewhat fluid, but typically are aligned along two generalcategories: optoelectronics, and optics and imaging.Faculty researchers at Norfolk State University have launched a project to convene severalOptical Engineering program faculty in a dialogue on how to effectively educate students aboutlaser systems. A third-year course on laser systems is offered in the NSU Optical Engineeringcurriculum. The course represents the first opportunity for students to learn and understand howa practical optoelectronic system is designed. Many students experience difficulty based simplyon jargon, while others struggle with the comprehensive view of a wholistic systems approach,as compared to component or sub-system level coverage of an optical engineering topic. . Theresearch team has also outlined two general areas for which student misconceptions have beenobserved based on experiences over a three year period teaching the course. Specifically,students demonstrate misconceptions related to interactions between light energy and matter, andconfusion related to descriptions of spatial and temporal characteristics of lasers has also beenobserved.A pilot concept inventory instrument has been developed using approaches developed inprevious inventory efforts. The tool is being used to measure the impact of the course on studentunderstanding in the areas outlined above. A teaching module relating the familiar conservationof energy and mass laws to light and matter interaction processes has also been implemented inthe NSU lasers course, and an open-cavity laser experiment has also been implemented as a coreactivity in the companion laboratory course. Finally, a Delphi Survey to catalog facultyexperiences in teaching laser theory will be implemented in winter 2010 and results of the surveywill be reported at the meeting.

Mead, P. F., & Streveler, R. A., & Thomas, L. D., & Cobb, C. A. (2011, June), Integrating Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in a Laser Systems Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18221

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