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Work in Progress: Incorporating Active Learning and the Entrepreneurial Mindset into a First-level Electrical Circuits Course

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Active and Cooperative Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Marnie Wong Arizona State University

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Ms. Marnie Wong received her master’s degree (MS) in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University before working as a Senior Analog Design Engineer specializing in power management at Freescale Semiconductor and IDT. She is now part of the freshman engineering education team in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Currently, her focus is on integrating entrepreneurial mindset into freshman and sophomore level engineering courses and designing and enhancing curriculum to increase engagement and student motivation. Her interests within engineering education include innovative teaching pedagogies for improved retention, specifically focused on women and underrepresented minorities.

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Lindy Hamilton Mayled Arizona State University

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Lindy Hamilton Mayled is the Director of Instructional Effectiveness for the Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She has a PhD in Psychology of Learning, Education, and Technology from Grand Canyon University. Her research and areas of interest are in improving educational outcomes for STEM students through the integration of active learning and technology-enabled frequent feedback. Prior to her role and Director of Instructional Effectiveness, she worked as the Education Project Manager for the NSF-funded JTFD Engineering faculty development program, as a high school math and science teacher, and as an Assistant Principal and Instructional & Curriculum Coach.

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This work-in-progress paper discusses alternative methods to the traditional lecture format in teaching a first level electrical circuits course with a lab component. This fifteen-week, four-credit course is many students first exposure to the application and analysis of electrical networks. The typical method of course delivery for this course includes teacher-centered instruction, and the expectation that students independently review reading materials before the lecture. Typically, faculty provide little encouragement of group work, peer-to-peer interaction, or active learning opportunities, other than those taking place in the lab portion of the class. The lab typically includes following instructions to make specific circuits and taking measurements. This design, particularly the reliance on lecture, is in contrast to current research, which shows that active learning practices are more effective than teacher-centered instruction [1]. One example of an alternative design which integrates higher levels of active learning is the flipped course strategy, which allows the instructor to move coverage of critical background information out of classroom time, allowing more innovative, problem-based, and active learning activities to take place in the classroom [1]. The purpose of this work-in-progress study is to leverage alternative instructional methods (flipping) to enable integration of active learning and the Entrepreneurial Mindset (EM), with the goal of improving student engagement and student learning outcomes and decreasing DEW rates (the percentage of students scoring a D, E, or withdrawing from the course). The study will also specifically evaluate based on gender and program-of-study differences.

Beginning in the Spring of 2017, a sophomore-level electrical engineering course, Circuits I, was taught at a large university in the Southwest. Each section was taught using varied instructional methods by the same instructor. The first change was additional active learning in the classroom. In one section, the amount of lecture time was reduced and time was added for group work on examples that reinforced the concepts of the lecture. The in-class examples were designed to encourage peer-to-peer sharing, promote exchange of ideas and questions, and provide connection between the lecture material and examples. In another section, a second added variation was to convert to a modified flipped course approach. Lecture videos were required for students to view online before the class session, in-class lecture was further reduced to the key points, and more time was given to active learning in the classroom. Both of the first two initiatives showed increased final grade class averages and decreased DEW rates.

Future course modifications that will be discussed, but not implemented in time to include in this paper are: - More detailed learning outcomes. - A project-based lab. - More in-class examples and activities that relate directly to the lab project and to the interests of the students.

The course design modifications will be compared and data regarding student achievement measured through final grade distribution and DEW rates will be considered. Both quantitative and qualitative results and assessment of the learning outcomes by gender and program-of-study will be analyzed and presented.

Wong, M., & Mayled, L. H. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Incorporating Active Learning and the Entrepreneurial Mindset into a First-level Electrical Circuits Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35650

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