New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Electrical and Computer
13 HBCU electrical and computer engineering programs are cooperating on a project to implement and expand experimental centric based instructional pedagogy (ECP) in engineering curricula. The key goal of the project is the production of a larger number of better prepared African American engineers, as well as other students who have a better public understanding of technology and its role in STEM education and policy. What is ECP and why should it lead to more and better educated African American engineers? The guiding hypothesis is that students and instructors or more motivated and engaged and engineering education works best in a learning environment in which experimentation plays a central role rather than existing on the periphery as is too often the case at too many engineering schools. The cost of building, maintaining, supporting and using expensive, limited-access experimental facilities has historically made it difficult to fully integrate hands-on, hardware-based learning experiences into our classrooms. The recent availability of personal instrumentation (e.g. Mobile Studio, Analog Discovery, myDAQ and others) has so lowered the traditional barriers to implementation that ECP is now feasible just about anywhere and anytime. All of the partner schools have successfully changed circuits and electronics intensive courses throughout their undergraduate programs to incorporate experiments and other activities built around Analog Discovery. These efforts have fundamentally changed what both students and instructors experience inside and outside the classroom. A coordinated assessment program involving common surveys, student and instructor interviews, observations, etc. has collected solidly positive responses from everyone involved. The ECP project is still definitely a work in progress, so key open issues will also be addressed, including the following. If experimentation is to play a central role in circuits and electronics education, what is the critical skill set for both students and instructors? Clearly both must be better experimenters than has likely been the case. Many faculty have commented that it has been a long time since they were regularly in the lab. Now with personal instrumentation they are effectively in the lab all of the time. Students previously also could work on their courses knowing that they had little responsibility or opportunity to continue to experiment on their own outside of their traditional labs. Now everyone must be enthusiastic and willing to tinker with ideas with little or no formal infrastructure for support. This means that troubleshooting and debugging skills are very important. In the end, everyone must more-or-less be able to move seamlessly from the theoretical to the real world and back, which is, of course, exactly what we expect of practicing engineers. This ability to be more like a real engineer while still a student is what we expect to be the source of increased motivation and retention among students and probably also among instructors.
Connor, K. A., & Newman, D., & Gullie, K. A., & Astatke, Y., & Kim, C. J., & Attia, J. O., & Andrei, P., & Ndoye, M. (2016, June), The Implementation of Experimental Centric Pedagogy in 13 ECE Programs - The View from Students and Instructors Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26185
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