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Lecture Videos to Supplement Electromagnetic Classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 2a

Tagged Topic

Pacific Southwest Section

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Dean Arakaki Cal Poly State University

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Dean Arakaki is an Associate Professor in the EE department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He teaches courses in electromagnetics, RF systems, wireless communications, and antennas. He received the Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2000 from Penn State University, University Park, PA. His current interdepartmental projects include algae biofuel and neutrino detection projects with biology and physics students and faculty. He is interested in developing methods (e.g. the inverted classroom) to enhance the learning experience for EE students.

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Electromagnetics and Transmission Lines is a fundamental, yet difficult subject in the Electrical Engineering (EE) field. To help improve information retention, a series of lecture videos was created to supplement traditional lectures, to facilitate in-class discussions, and to improve students’ proficiency and interest in electromagnetics.

Engineering electromagnetics classes at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo cover fundamentals to understand and analyze cell phone communications, radar systems (air traffic control, law enforcement), and biomedical imaging (MRI). However, this subject also requires considerable mathematics preparation in vector calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and background in both physics and EE.

Lecture videos were created on the Camtasia software to produce MP4 audio-visual files. All videos include a topic outline, stationary and animated visual displays of lecture topic applications, and a detailed discussion using outlines and handwritten notes. Example calculations and real-world applications, Smith Chart graphical analysis, and Matlab computations and visual animations (standing and traveling waves, dynamic vector field and scalar contour diagrams) augment theoretical discussions and help visualize course concepts. Real-world applications including the Large Hadron Collider (CERN), RF test equipment (network analyzers), cell phone tower antennas, and radar imaging systems are introduced in the videos and related to course topics. A total of 36 videos were recorded for EE 335 (junior-level electromagnetics); average video length is 20 to 25 minutes for each 50 minute lecture.

All lecture videos were stored online ( and made available one week prior to each class session. A student survey was conducted to assess perceived video effectiveness, to compare to traditional lectures, and to estimate video usage (how often watched, how many hours per week). Questions also include overall suggestions for video improvement, favorite (and not so favorite) parts of the class, and overall impressions.

Most students appeared to value the new videos: 55% agreed with the statement “the lecture videos helped me learn course concepts.” Video length (20 – 25 minute average) was between too long (43%) and just right (29%). The most common negative comment mentioned the additional time required to view the videos over a traditional lecture class.

Future efforts toward a flipped (inverted) classroom format include the development of topic videos and post-video quizzes to encourage pre-lecture viewing, as suggested in [1]. Video production improvements including minimized length and enhanced information organization will be applied to future lecture videos. Practical lab projects [2] will also be explored and added as another method of enhancing student interest in electromagnetics. Finally, information retention between traditional and flipped classroom formats will be compared to determine the relative effectiveness of both approaches.


1. M. Stickel, "Teaching Electromagnetism with the Inverted Classroom Approach: Student Perceptions and Lessons Learned," 121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Indianapolis, IN, June 15-18, 2014

2. F. T. Arslan, "Improved Flipped Classroom Teaching for Electromagnetic Engineering Course," Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf, Southwest Annual Conference, The University of Texas San Antonio, 2015

Arakaki, D. (2017, April), Lecture Videos to Supplement Electromagnetic Classes at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona.

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