Asee peer logo

Student Misconceptions In An Introductory Digital Logic Design Course

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Digital System Design

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1163.1 - 11.1163.14

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Michael Loui University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

author page

James Longino University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

author page

Craig Zilles University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

Download Paper |

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

Student Misconceptions in an Introductory Logic Design Course Abstract

In order to improve student learning, instructors should identify concepts that are difficult for students to understand. Instructors can then change course material or teaching methods to focus on these difficult concepts. Researchers can develop assessment tools based on common student misconceptions to measure the effects of pedagogical changes.

This paper describes the results of interviews with students who took an introductory logic design course in the Spring or Summer of 2005 at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. These interviews revealed many common misconceptions students have after completing a sophomore-level course on logic design. This paper also describes the results of an assessment test based on the interviews and administered to students taking an introduction to logic design course at the end of the Fall semester of 2005 at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.


Engineering and computer science faculty have a growing number of reasons to assess student learning outcomes. ABET accreditation requires “a system of ongoing evaluation that demonstrates achievement of these objectives and uses the results to improve the effectiveness of the program.” 1 Faculty interested in improving their teaching require an objective, reliable tool to evaluate the effects of different teaching methods. Education researchers need a standard tool to compare pedagogies. Classroom assessment can be used to achieve institutional, faculty, and research assessment objectives. 2 One assessment tool that has proven valuable in science and engineering fields is the concept inventory, a short, multiple-choice tool used to determine how students think about concepts in a field. In particular, the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), which probes conceptual understanding of Newtonian mechanics, has revolutionized how introductory physics courses are taught. Because concept inventories test student misconceptions in a field, designing new concept inventories requires an understanding of the important concepts in the field and how students understand those concepts.

In this paper, we describe our initial work toward the development of a concept inventory for logic design. In particular, we document student misconceptions that we identified through a series of interviews with students who had recently completed an introductory course in logic design. To check whether other students held these misconceptions, we developed and administered a multiple-choice assessment test. While this test has limited coverage and has not been validated sufficiently to be considered a concept inventory, both the test and the student misconceptions that we have identified represent a promising first step. Because this work is only a first step, we focus primarily on identifying student misconceptions and make no attempt at recommending teaching practices to address those misconceptions.

We conducted our research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which offers two introductory logic design courses: ECE290: Computer Engineering I offered by the Department

Loui, M., & Longino, J., & Zilles, C. (2006, June), Student Misconceptions In An Introductory Digital Logic Design Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015