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Novel Practices in Teaching Circuit Analysis in an EET Program

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Novel Teaching Methods In Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.931.1 - 23.931.11

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Paper Authors


Ying Lin Western Washington University

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Ying Lin has been with the faculty of Engineering Technology Department at Western Washington University since September 2010 after she taught for two years at SUNY, New Platz. She received her BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, China, and obtained her MS in Applied Statistics and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University, NY, respectively. Her teaching interests include Analog, Digital,and Wireless Communications, Digital Signal Processing, and Circuit Analysis.

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Todd D. Morton Western Washington University

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Todd Morton has been teaching the upper level embedded systems and senior project courses for Western Washington University's Electronics Engineering Technology(EET) program for 25 years. He has been the EET program coordinator since 2005 and also served as department chair from 2008-2012. He is the author of the text ’Embedded Microcontrollers’, which covers assembly and C programming in small real-time embedded systems and has worked as a design engineer at Physio Control Corporation and at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an ASEE-NASA Summer Faculty Fellow. He has a BSEE and MSEE from the University of Washington.

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Novel Practices in Teaching Circuit Analysis in an EET ProgramCircuit analysis, recognized as the foundation of Electrical Engineering (EE) and ElectronicEngineering Technology (EET) curriculums, is critical to a successful educational experience forstudents in these programs. Offered as the first major course, circuit analysis aims to buildstudents a solid coursework base and prepares them for subsequent more advanced courses.Moreover, circuit analysis also serves as a “first light” to expose students to these majors and toattract undeclared students to majoring in these programs.Due to students’ background (mostly freshman with limited math skills) and the nature of thecourse material, circuit analysis often is viewed as one of the most challenging and difficultlower-division EE/EET courses. Consequently, how to effectively teach this course to achievethe aforementioned desired outcomes often poses conceivable challenges to instructors.Aiming to meet these challenges and outcomes, in addition to the traditional teachingapproaches, we have explored and implemented a number of new teaching techniques in thiscourse in our EET curriculum since 2010 and have gained positive and promising teachingoutcomes and students’ feedback. In this paper, we present and share some of our successfulpractices and effort with colleagues in this area.The new teaching elements we introduced are targeted to address a number of challenges andneeds such as: I: inspiring students’ interests in learning circuit analysis and majoring in EET program; II: introducing students the “big picture” of the EET program and curriculum; III: efficient and effective lab instructions for an increasing enrollment.Our novel practices are adopted in lecture and lab instructions, respectively. In lecture, theimplemented teaching strategies are featured by using multimedia components such as videos,in-person upper-division students’ project presentations, attending senior design demo event, anda guest talk by our EET program coordinator. Specifically, we show students short videos oflatest hi-tech developments and advances in this field with a focus on circuits and systemsthrough the quarter, which is followed by follow-up questions and discussions. Another effectivepractice is to invite upper-class students such as juniors and seniors to showcase their courseprojects or/and part-time fun projects in class. This has been highly regarded by students asevidenced in their class surveys. In addition, a 30-minutes general introduction of the EETprogram is offered by our program coordinator, which gives students an overall understanding ofthe program and curriculum. Lastly, in the end of the quarter, students are encouraged to attendthe annually EET senior design demonstration event to witness the hard-work and engagingprojects seniors have accomplished. Interactions with the seniors greatly benefit the freshman asreflected by students’ comments. In the paper, we will elaborate on the topics, scopes, and theroles of these videos, students’ projects, and the guest speeches toward meeting the needs andchallenges. The schedule of these activities will also be discussed.On the other hand, well-structured and delivered lab components are always paramount in ahands-on oriented EET program. One of our challenges is the increasing enrollment in the EETprogram. Since 2006, the enrollment in circuit analysis has jumped from about 25 students toover 40. Consequently, efficient and effective lab instruction to cope with such capacity increaseis in urgent need. To address this issue, we have proposed and implemented a few successfulsolutions including recruiting upper-division student TAs (also as mentors) and developingmultimedia instruction tools such as tutorial videos on essential lab equipment. The roles of theTAs, the scope of tutorial videos, and the benefits of these practices will be presented in the fullversion of this paper.In the paper, we will also provide assessment results to demonstrate the effectiveness of theimplemented teaching techniques. We have adopted one of the most widely used assessmenttool – survey. Both student survey and faculty survey have been collected and analysis of thesurvey responses will be conducted. In addition, lab/tests results will be used to serve asassessment measures.Lessons learned through the past two offerings of this course will be summarized in this paper aswell. For instance, timing is an issue given our 10-week quarter system. It makes class timemanagement a challenge when we need to incorporate video showing into delivering designatedcourse content. We also found that, as expected, the majority of students are in favor of usingsuch multimedia tools (e.g., tutorial videos) and think these are more effective in facilitatingstudents getting familiar and mastering of the lab equipment. Interestingly, a few studentsindicated that they would prefer the traditional manual-on-paper approach. Finally, in the end ofthis paper, we will outline some possible future improvements based on these lessons andstudents’ feedback.

Lin, Y., & Morton, T. D. (2013, June), Novel Practices in Teaching Circuit Analysis in an EET Program Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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