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Online, Interactive Tool for Studying How Students Troubleshoot Circuits

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Amy Fritz Stanford University

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Amy Fritz is an electrical engineering PhD student at Stanford University who works with Professor Mark Horowitz in the department of electrical engineering on education research.

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Mark Horowitz Stanford University

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Mark Horowitz is the Yahoo! Founders Professor at Stanford University and was chair of the Electrical Engineering Department from 2008 to 2012. He co-founded Rambus, Inc. in 1990 and is a fellow of the IEEE and the ACM and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Science. Dr. Horowitz's research interests are quite broad and span using EE and CS analysis methods to problems in molecular biology to creating new design methodologies for analog and digital VLSI circuits.

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Atindra Jha Stanford University

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Atindra is an undergraduate student at Stanford University pursuing Computer Science and Mathematics. He works under the guidance of Dr. Mark Horowitz and Amy Fritz, aiding their electrical engineering education research.

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We have developed a new tool to look at how students interact with circuits during the troubleshooting process. The online tool was originally designed to analyze individual troubleshooting strategy for large classes, but it also works well in the COVID-era to facilitate remote learning. While there are a number of tools that allow students to virtually interact with circuits, none supported both breadboard graphics and recording all student interactions, which were necessary to create an authentic troubleshooting situation that could be analyzed by the researchers afterwards. Therefore, we created our own circuit and data analysis tool using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, which utilizes breadboard imagery from Fritzing and runs on most modern browsers. Unlike a traditional paper-and-pencil test, the interactive, online tool allows us to see how students react to new information and measure domain knowledge beyond theory—including interpreting physical circuits and making measurements. Instead of relying on students to tell us everything on their mind, we can use their actions as a proxy for their thought processes. This paper describes how we developed the tool and some preliminary data on how students debug.

Fritz, A., & Horowitz, M., & Jha, A. (2021, July), Online, Interactive Tool for Studying How Students Troubleshoot Circuits Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37542

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