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An Experiment in Laboratory Education

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2 Author(s)
G. Kent ; Elec. Engrg. Dept., Syracuse Uniiversity, Syracuse, N. Y. ; W. H. Card

A departure from traditional forms of undergraduate laboratory education has been incorporated into the electrical engineering curriculum at Syracuse University. In this paper is presented a summary of the reasons for this innovation, a description of the course, and an evaluation of our experiences with it. As curricula in electrical engineering become more science centered, it is essential that the undergraduate engineering laboratory take as its prime objective the development of skills requisite to the planning and execution of meaningful experiments and the promotion of an understanding of the relationships between theory and experiment. Briefly, the objective is an education in the experimental aspects of scientific method. This objective has not been well served in the past by the traditional laboratories. Too frequently, student motivation has been poor enough to limit substantially the learning process, and the typical experiment was not likely to afford an opportunity for education in science. To attempt to fulfill the objectives stated, a separate course in laboratory was initiated. The separation of the laboratory from its traditionally dependent role was expected to permit greater freedom in the technical content of the course and to emphasize the importance of the laboratory to science. The plan of the course was inspired by the belief that motivation, the prime force in the learning process, is determined in part by the significance of the experiments the student is asked to perform, and that an education in science can be obtained only by the exercise of its method.

Published in:

IRE Transactions on Education  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 2 )