June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
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Main Menu Session 3432
Know your Lab Stuff: Laboratory Proficiency Exam for an Introductory Circuits Class Ian M. Nauhaus and Susan M. Lord University of San Diego
Engineering 60 Electrical Networks is an introductory class in circuit analysis and design for sophomore engineers at the University of San Diego (USD). The theory in lecture is accompanied by three hours of lab each week. This lab is the first time that engineering students have the opportunity to use basic electrical engineering equipment such as an oscilloscope, a multimeter, a function generator, and a breadboard. One of the primary goals of Engr 60 is to have the students leave the semester with proficiency in all of this equipment. To insure that students are achieving this goal, a laboratory proficiency exam was designed by a junior electrical engineering major. Although students routinely keep a laboratory notebook and do several formal reports during the semester, we decided that a laboratory experience was the best way to gauge a students hands-on laboratory skills. The laboratory skills test is comprised of six different modules. Together, they require proficiency in all the equipment that a student in an introductory circuits class might need. In addition, some of the modules require theoretical knowledge. A group of electrical engineering juniors volunteered to do initial testing of these modules. Feedback from these trials was used to improve the modules. Following this, students in the Engr 60 class at the end of the Spring 2001 semester performed these modules as an extra credit option. Each student performed one randomly chosen module. Response to the modules was enthusiastic in terms of the numbers of students participating as well as their assessment of its usefulness. The modules and student response to them will be discussed in this paper.
A crucial aspect of education is assessment and evaluation. In a lecture-based class, this is determined most often by a written test. In a lab, on the other hand, tests are usually not given. Some of the most valuable tools that a student of electrical engineering must acquire are purely manual and can not be tested anywhere but in the lab. One could rationalize that completing the labs means that students have acquired these skills. In other words, they could not have gotten through the lab with a passing grade without working with the equipment in an efficient manner. However, when working in groups, the learning curve has a tendency to become lopsided. Even in groups of only two, one person may get left out of the activity despite the professor’s efforts to encourage everyone to fully participate. As a result, a few people at the end of the semester may not know their way around the laboratory well enough to succeed in future courses.
Although students routinely keep a laboratory notebook and do several formal reports during the semester, we decided that a laboratory experience was the best way to gauge a student’s hands- on laboratory skills. Thus, a laboratory proficiency exam was designed by a junior electrical engineering major. The exam was designed to provide the instructor with some feedback at the
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education
Nauhaus, I., & Lord, S. (2002, June), Know Your Lab Stuff: Laboratory Proficiency Exam For An Introductory Circuits Class Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11177
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