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Interactive Tutorial For An Introductory Electrical Course Engineering

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.389.1 - 5.389.6



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Paper Authors

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Ryan S. Magargle

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Rami W. Zarrouk

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Maurice F Aburdene

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

Session 2793

Interactive Tutorial for an Introductory Electrical Engineering Course

Maurice F. Aburdene, Rami W. Zarrouk, Ryan S. Magargle Bucknell University


This paper presents a tutorial and diagnostic tool called, "What You Already Know." The objective of this tutorial is to prepare students for their first electrical engineering course, and it is designed to diagnose what the students already know and aid them in understanding some basic concepts through hands-on experience. The tutorial is computer-based and utilizes links between Microsoft Word and Excel to produce interactive graphs that can be modified by the student. Another version of this tutorial is available using Mathcad, a tool that allows the student to integrate text, mathematical computation, and graphics into a single worksheet.

Students use the tutorial to assess their ability to visualize plots of sinusoids and exponentials in various mathematical forms. In addition, the tutorial checks student understanding of differentiation and integration of various waveforms. Other topics include simple design and optimization of single variable systems, and the matrix representation and solution of linear equations. In addition, the tutorial covers binary number systems and weighted sums. Students are asked to find the average and variance of sinusoidal signals and randomly selected sample values of resistors. The exercises were developed to help the instructor perform an "academic checkup" or "background check" of students taking their first course in electrical engineering during their second semester of the first year. However, it has been used as a diagnostic tool for other classes as well.


Students having a strong background in the first year of electrical engineering tend to have a distinct advantage in higher level courses. In the past, standard paper-and-pencil methods such as homework and lecturing relied heavily on the visualization capabilities and material absorption rate of the student. Newer interactive methods, using computer technology, reduce the effort and time needed to understand new concepts. It is still important for the professor to teach the concepts in a classroom setting, but these interactive tools help the student increase his or her understanding of the problems explained in class. This increased understanding comes after the student has fully explored the problems taught in class using interactive tools. These interactive tools will allow the student to modify certain parameters in a problem and see the corresponding output.

The combination of Microsoft (MS) Word and Excel has been used because these programs are usually packaged together and can be linked to interactively modify graphs and equations. Mathcad has also been used because it is inherently interactive and because of the ability to produce animation movies, which can help the student better understand the problem. In addition, the use of these programs will further the student’s expertise with the above software packages and computers in general.

Magargle, R. S., & Zarrouk, R. W., & Aburdene, M. F. (2000, June), Interactive Tutorial For An Introductory Electrical Course Engineering Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8490

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