New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Electrical and Computer
This work in progress describes pedagogical innovations in an electrical and computer engineering department designed to help students gain core competencies in electrical engineering more effectively. Electrical engineering (EE) core competencies consist of three pillars: signals and systems, electronic circuits, and electromagnetics. Technical courses teaching the core competencies are typically in the middle years of a four-year undergraduate program. With the requirement of knowing a wide range of fundamental math concepts such as complex variables and their representations/manipulations, integrations and differentiations, factorization and other algebraic manipulations, gaining core competencies represents significant technical challenges to students enrolled in an EE undergraduate program in two different ways: • The amount of contents covered increases significantly over time. Many students find it difficult to grasp the concepts because they are extremely abstract and mathematically intense. • Students do not see the connections between core competency courses and how they fit into the big picture, as well as why the mastery of individual topics matters greatly for solving real-world engineering problems. Thus, they lose confidence and motivation.
By recognizing that key concepts in different core competency areas are often applied to solve real-world engineering problems, the new proposed approach tackles one of the fundamental deficiencies in learning by changing the traditional silo-style teaching and learning. The proposed approach breaks the courses in the core competency areas into a set of learning studio modules (LSMs). Each LSM is self-contained and addresses a key anchoring concept and a set of related concepts in a given core competency area. For example, differential signaling and its circuit realization is an anchoring concept in Electronic Circuits. The related concepts include common mode noise, matching, input offset, etc. A traditional semester-long course for a given core competency area consists of a set of LSMs in a specified order. Thus, a path exists for students to learn all anchoring concepts in a given core competency area. However, by properly aligning LSMs from different core competency areas, LSMs provide an opportunity to stitch together a set of key anchoring concepts across different core competency areas to form new learning modules to illustrate how a set of anchoring concepts can be applied together to solve real-world engineering problem. The purpose of the new modules is to make the overall learning more coherent and to provide context of utilization of these anchoring concepts to increase student appreciation and motivation. Therefore, they play the role of knowledge integration (KI).
KI modules reinforce the fact that concepts in different core competency areas are highly connected and dependent on each other to make a complex system function as intended. They allow students to gain deeper understanding of the roles the anchoring concepts play through applications. KI modules also provide a platform for better unpacking of math, physics, and engineering concepts to create knowledge coherency among the core competency areas. This paper provides details for the proposed LSMs and their related KI modules. The relationship between the proposed LSMs and KIs and their rationales will also be discussed.
Chen, T., & Maciejewski, A. A., & Notaros, B. M., & Pezeshki, A., & Reese, M. D. (2016, June), Mastering the Core Competencies of Electrical Engineering through Knowledge Integration Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25683
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