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Integration Of Active Learning Exercises Into A Course On Probability And Statistics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Mathematics Curriculum in Transition

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.798.1 - 10.798.9

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Paper Authors

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Doug Tougaw

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


Integration of Active Learning Exercises into a Course on Probability and Statistics Douglas Tougaw

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Valparaiso University

1. Introduction The benefits of active and cooperative learning exercises have been promoted in workshops, education journals, and entire scholarly monographs.1-8 In particular, the benefits of these teaching methods have been studied and endorsed in recent years,9-12 including publication of results that show these methods to increase the effectiveness of teaching and the retention of the material by the students.13-17 Critics have stated that such methods detract from the time available for presenting new material to their classes, but proponents counter with evidence that active learning exercises allow instructors to cover at least the same amount of material as a traditional class, if not more.18

One area that seems very appropriate for the application of these ideas is in mathematics courses taught to an exclusively engineering audience. An example of such a situation is a course on probability and statistics taught exclusively for electrical and computer engineers. Since the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology specifically requires electrical and computer engineers to demonstrate an ability to apply the laws of probability and statistics to electrical and computer engineering problems,19 such courses are frequently taught within engineering departments by engineering faculty.

2. A Challenging Teaching Assignment ECE 465, Probability and Statistics for Electrical and Computer Engineers, has been taught in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Valparaiso University for a number of years. As outlined above, this course is designed to introduce Valpo ECE students to the principles of probability and statistics and also to show them how those principles can be applied to their engineering work.

The course learning objectives for ECE 465 are as follows:

After successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: 1. Calculate descriptive statistics such as the mean, standard deviation, and variance for both continuous and discrete probability distributions. 2. Apply the fundamental concepts of probability such as conditional probability, independence, counting methods, total probability, and Bayes’s theorem to solve probability problems.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Tougaw, D. (2005, June), Integration Of Active Learning Exercises Into A Course On Probability And Statistics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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