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Piloting A Balanced Curriculum In Electrical Engineering Introduction To Robotics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Undergraduate Research & New Directions

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1001.1 - 10.1001.14



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Paper Authors

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Michael Ciletti

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Gregory Plett

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

Piloting a Balanced Curriculum in Electrical Engineering— Introduction to Robotics

Gregory L. Plett and Michael D. Ciletti Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Colorado at Colorado Springs


Recent papers have reported that engineering students perceive and assimilate academic content in different ways. A variety of theories have been developed to try to understand this phenome- non better so that instructional methods may be developed to reach all students. One well-known instrument used to assess learning styles is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) [Myers80], which can be used to classify learners according to a Jungian personality typography. Others have reported on the utility of this approach. Since the engineering profession requires that its practitioners function in all types of circumstances, these results underscore the importance of an educational process that provides a balance in teaching methods to reach, reinforce, and chal- lenge students of all personality types and learning modalities.

Comprehension of the Kolb elements of learning combined with the 4MAT system [Harb93] provides an instrument to formulate balanced engineering curricula. In Kolb’s framework, stu- dents’ learning styles are projected onto two dimensions: perception, and processing. Based on these two continuums, Kolb enumerated four different types of learner, an understanding of which forms the basis of the 4MAT system, an instructional cycle aimed first at reaching stu- dents of all learning types, and secondly at teaching students how to traverse the learning cycle for themselves, preparing them for life-long learning.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) has successfully implemented key features of the Kolb/4MAT learn- ing paradigm in a new freshman-level course Introduction to Robotics. This paper will describe relevant details of this new course and relate our results to a Kolb/4MAT learning paradigm. Additionally, we will report on efforts to extend the methodology to a core set of courses in our curriculum under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation.

I. Former Practice at UCCS and the Need for Change

The ECE Department at UCCS offers undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineer- ing and Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering (BSEE/BSCpE) degree programs. The majority of courses in both programs take a very traditional lecture-based approach to delivery of by-and-large, very traditional content. The four-year undergraduate degrees each comprise eight semesters, with courses offered sequentially to accommodate prerequisites (e.g., calculus and physics). Before the innovation described in this paper, the first year of the curriculum intro-

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Ciletti, M., & Plett, G. (2005, June), Piloting A Balanced Curriculum In Electrical Engineering Introduction To Robotics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15500

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