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Using Case Study Research as an Active Learning Tool for Demonstrating the Ability to Function on Multidisciplinary Teams

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Assessment of Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1323.1 - 24.1323.12



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Paper Authors


Wayne Lu University of Portland

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Wayne Lu received his B.S.E.E. degree from Chung-Cheng Institute of Technology, Tauyuan, Taiwan in 1973 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma in 1981 and 1989, respectively. He is a member of IEEE and ASEE. He has been a faculty at the University of Portland since 1988 and currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. His areas of interest include embedded systems design, digital systems design, and embedded vision.

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Using Case Study Research as an Active Learning Tool for Demonstrating the Ability to Function on Multidisciplinary TeamsIn a junior level EE 333 Computer Organization course required by CS and EE majors, it hasbeen a challenge to define an effective performance indicator to assess a benchmark studentoutcome designated to the course: ABET student outcome (d), an ability to function onmultidisciplinary teams. In order to have a measurable assessment tool, design projects relatedto computer hardware are assigned to teams of CS and EE majors. However, these projects tendto be hardware-oriented and force EE majors to be main contributors of the projects.This paper presents an experience on using a case study research project as an active learningtool for demonstrating the ability to function on multidisciplinary teams as specified by ABETstudent outcome (d). The research project not only can stimulate student’s motivation onexpanding their learning beyond the classroom discussion, but also encourage collaborationbetween team members with different majors. A case study on the frontier of computingapplications as a term project was assigned to teams of EE and CS majors. The project was toperform in-depth technical research on the processors and system architectures employed in oneof the five emerging computing applications: big data, cloud computing, self-driving vehicles,desktop virtualization, and No. 1 supercomputers in the recent three years of thetop500supercomputer lists.Each team can choose one of the five categories and the project requirement is to report theteam’s research results and to create a poster presentation. Each team’s score is graded based ontheir report content and poster presentation. This approach gives EE and CS majors equalopportunity to contribute to the project on their multidisciplinary teams.This paper details the experience on implementing this case study approach. The Introductionsection gives a summary of the motivation and the background of this approach. The ProjectAssignment section details the features of processors and system architectures each team needsto research. The Project Poster Presentation section details the format, guideline and evaluationrubric. The Assessment section details how the project report and poster presentation areassessed and how it fulfills the ABET Student Outcome (d). The Summary section summarizesthe results on types of applications students chose, overall performance of the teams, thedifficulties encountered by the students, and the instructor’s experience executing this case studyapproach. Finally, the Future Work section offers suggestions for improving the approach in thefuture and also suggests other approaches for implementing case study research.

Lu, W. (2014, June), Using Case Study Research as an Active Learning Tool for Demonstrating the Ability to Function on Multidisciplinary Teams Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23256

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