June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.1311.1 - 26.1311.16
Recent Progress in Step-Based Tutoring for Linear Circuit Analysis CoursesWe describe recent advances in a step-based tutoring system for teaching elementary linear circuitanalysis. The system, called Circuit Tutor, features automatic generation of textbook-likeproblems whose topology and element values are both selected randomly. Every student thereforeworks completely different (but similar) problems, and has access to an unlimited supply ofproblems and worked examples. Solutions to these problems are generated using the analyticalmethods typically taught in introductory classes, rather than the numerical approaches used insoftware like PSPICE. The system accepts and evaluates each step in a student’s work, includingre-drawn circuit diagrams (entered using a special circuit drawing and editing interface), equations(using a special template-based input system), simplified and matrix equations, waveform sketches(using a web-based graphical input system), numerical answers, etc. If a student enters an incorrectanswer at any step, they are provided with a detailed explanation of why the answer is incorrect,shown the correct solution, and then given a new problem of the same type and difficulty. Thesystem guarantees mastery learning of each topic, but does not penalize students for wronganswers. This approach helps build student confidence and leads to high levels of satisfaction withthe system. All student activity in the system is logged to a central server, and instructors canaccess a web-based interface that shows progress and activity.Previously, the system featured three tutorials, which instructed students in identifying series andparallel elements, and in writing (but not solving) DC node and mesh equations, includingsupernodes, supermeshes, and dependent sources. As of Fall 2014, the system has been expandedto a total of 14 tutorials, providing significantly expanded coverage of the course material. Thenew tutorials include identification of series and parallel elements in the presence of terminals(which may be used to measure voltage, connect an arbitrary subcircuit, or to “view” an inputresistance or impedance); steady-state AC (phasor) versions of the node and mesh equationtutorials; tutorials in which DC or AC circuits are fully solved for one or more desired voltages,currents, and/or powers, including formulation of the problem as simplified equations in standardform and then as a matrix equation; tutorials that teach students to combine resistors, inductors,capacitors, and impedances in series and parallel, including complicated multi-stepsimplifications; and a tutorial that asks students to draw the current or voltage for a capacitor orinductor, given the opposite quantity, using a web-based sketching interface. Additional tutorialsnow in development include the mathematical aspects of Laplace transforms and the sketching ofBode plots from system transfer functions (and vice versa). Additional solution methods are alsobeing developed to support all aspects of DC and AC circuit analysis. Initial results from alaboratory-based study showed a statistically significant 1.21 standard deviation improvement instudent performance compared to normal textbook-based homework. Results of additionalevaluation experiments being performed in Fall 2014 at multiple institutions will be reported. Thesoftware has been used by over 1290 students at four different universities and some communitycolleges.Fig. 1. Screen shot of the new AC node solution tutorial, where students go through the completeprocess of solving for a desired quantity(ies) using node analysis. The student has alreadyentered the node equations and sought variable equations successfully (printed on the screen),and is now being asked to convert the equations to standard form so they can be put in matrixform in the next step (not shown).
Skromme, B. J., & Rayes, P., & McNamara, B., & Wang, X., & Huang, Y., & Robinson, D. H., & Gao, X., & Thompson, T. (2015, June), Recent Progress in Step-Based Tutoring for Linear Circuit Analysis Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24648
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