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Web Enhanced Instruction And Assessment For A First Laboratory Course In Electrical And Computer Engineering

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1149.1 - 6.1149.6

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Paper Authors

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Thaddeus Roppel

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Victor Nelson

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

Session 3432

Web-Enhanced Instruction and Assessment for a First Laboratory Course in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Thaddeus Roppel, Victor Nelson Auburn University


Electrical and Computer Engineering students taking their first core laboratory course respond well to web-based instruction recently implemented at Auburn University. Pre-lab introductory reading and exercises, and in-lab experimental procedures are provided to the students on the course web site. These in-house materials are supplemented by links to publicly available JAVA- based demos, manufacturer’s data sheets, and various sites focusing on interest areas such as electronic music, biomedical research, and robotics. Students readily accommodate to this delivery method, and students and instructors alike find it preferable to a pre-printed laboratory manual because of the wealth of support information that can be included, and the ease of including annotated color photographs of equipment and components.

I. Introduction

Auburn University switched from the quarter system to the semester system in Fall 2000. As part of the transition, the required core laboratory courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering were entirely redesigned. The new laboratory sequence includes one required core laboratory course each semester of the sophomore and junior years. The laboratory courses are not directly linked to specific lecture classes, but the experiments are carefully designed to synchronize to a great degree with the standard curriculum. The focus of this paper is the first sophomore laboratory course (hereinafter referred to as Lab I), which provides an introduction to safety, instrumentation, analog circuits and devices, and digital circuits and components.

In Lab I, it is often the case that students require some background, which they have not studied in any lecture, to understand and conduct a given experiment. For example, Lab I includes an experiment using operational amplifiers, although op-amps are not formally introduced in lecture until the second electronics course. The latter course is normally taken in the first semester of the junior year. The challenge, therefore, is to design experiments that are interesting and stimulating, while providing the necessary background, often without assuming students have exposure to the topic in lecture. Use of web-based instructional tools provides a way to accomplish this, while simultaneously providing exceptional flexibility to the instructor to modify and update course materials in response to assessment feedback.

Web-enhanced engineering laboratory instruction has been reported in the literature recently1–3, and is in place at a number of U.S. universities, including the University of Nebraska at

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Roppel, T., & Nelson, V. (2001, June), Web Enhanced Instruction And Assessment For A First Laboratory Course In Electrical And Computer Engineering Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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