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Lessons Learned Using Electronic Responders In A Power And Controls Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Experiences in Teaching Energy Courses

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1018.1 - 12.1018.13



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Skvarenina Purdue University

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

Lessons Learned Using Electronic Responders in a Power and Controls Course


The use of electronic response pads in class has become somewhat popular over the past several years, both in K-12 as well as in higher education. Electronic response pads are tv-remote sized devices that allow students to enter answers to questions posed by the instructor. The author used one such system, the Classroom Performance System (CPS) by eInstruction, during the fall 2005 and fall 2006 semesters in a required, sophomore-level course on electric power and controls. The CPS response pads were used for attendance, some quizzes, review questions, surveys, and example problems during the course. Student opinion of the system during the first offering was quite poor; however, the students in the second offering had a better opinion regarding the CPS usage. This paper describes how the units can be used in class and some of the lessons learned from the use of the CPS units.


For many years, the traditional mode of delivering material in the engineering classroom has been the lecture, wherein the instructor talks and the students take notes. Occasionally, students might be asked a question, but when answers don’t come quickly, the instructor often answers the question. Today’s students, however, are much more used to learning by doing and often have much shorter attention spans, which certainly don’t last the 50 minutes of the typical class period. Research has consistently shown that active learning on the part of students results in superior learning and long-term retention of material1-9. Active learning, as the name implies, means involving the students actively during the class. These activities might involve discussions of material, answering questions, working example problems, and other techniques1. When activities are done with other students in teams, it is called cooperative learning.

Over the past several years, I have tried to incorporate active learning into my class sessions in a sophomore-level, required course in Electrical Power and Controls. However, the success was somewhat mixed, partly due to my own personality and partly due to student attitudes. The classes have had enrollments ranging from the mid 30s to the low 70s, but typically in the 40s. Such classes are large enough that some students feel they can hide or do other things during the class. This has been particularly true with the availability of wireless networking throughout the campus, as students may be taking notes on a laptop or they may be doing email or even chat sessions during class. In particular asking students to work through a problem results in some doing other things. In some classrooms, it is possible to move around and observe what students are doing, but in many classrooms, the seating is arranged (e.g., fixed, theater seating) so as to make it very difficult to move around once the students are in place with their bookbags, coats, etc. Thus, I often found it difficult to determine how well students were doing during the exercises and how many of them finished and how quickly they finished. As previously mentioned, asking questions of students often results in little response, even if they are asked to indicate agreement or disagreement with something. Generally, I attribute this to fear of being wrong in front of the other students.

Skvarenina, T. (2007, June), Lessons Learned Using Electronic Responders In A Power And Controls Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1827

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