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The Use Of Self Directed Laboratory Experimental Learning In The Undergraduate Curriculum

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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

Curriculum Development in Electr-Mech ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1337.1 - 10.1337.8



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Paper Authors

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Donald Richter

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

Session 2148

The Use of Self –Directed Laboratory Experimental Learning in the Undergraduate Curriculum

Donald Richter Eastern Washington University School of Computing and Engineering Sciences Department of Engineering and Design


The need to provide instruction that is more “student centered” and challenging to the individual student in higher education has created the need for new paradigms of teaching Engineering Technology. To meet this challenge requires a new look at how we have traditionally delivered the laboratory experience for Engineering Technology at the bachelors level.

The following paper describes how Eastern Washington University has chosen to meet this challenge using a non-traditional paradigm of delivering the laboratory experience in the Robotics and Automation course. The new method of delivery uses self-directed and self- designed experiments by the student to enhance the learning experience. This new framework of course delivery challenges the student to design and implement an experiment that is unique to him/her. The student is much more engaged in higher order learning since he must first design, understand and then perform the experiment. This is in contrast to the traditional method of the student blindly doing the same pre-planned experiment as all the other students, often not understanding or caring why he/she was doing the experiment in the first place. The paper further relates the experience and lessons learned in using this new method of laboratory experimentation at the undergraduate level.


The traditional way that undergraduate laboratory experiments are implemented does not provide instruction that is “student centered” and challenging to the individual student. The traditional method of delivery of these courses may not be the most efficient for student educational learning [2,3]. Students are typically instructed to perform pre-planned experiments that have been very carefully crafted to demonstrate a specific concept or theory. All students in the class perform the exact experiment, and often, the same experiment is used year after year. We wonder why the students find this boring and wish to spend as little time as possible in the Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Richter, D. (2005, June), The Use Of Self Directed Laboratory Experimental Learning In The Undergraduate Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14276

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