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Effects of types of active learning activity on two junior-level computer engineering courses

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3 Author(s)
Bagchi, S. ; Sch. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN ; Johnson, M.C. ; Chaterji, S.

In several computer engineering and computer science courses, it has been observed that active learning activities (ALAs) aid the students in better understanding of the technical material. In this paper, we explore the influence of the type of the ALA and the academic quality of the student on the effectiveness of the technique. We perform the study in two junior level courses-a course on discrete mathematics as applied to computer engineering topics and an ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) design course. The first course has no laboratory component and teaches several abstract mathematical concepts. The latter course deals with the design of digital circuits using the VHDL hardware description language and has a laboratory component. We conduct ALAs of three kinds-solving problems in-class with active participation of the students; homework problems which are worked on collaboratively by the students and with solutions provided later; and, practice examinations handed out before the actual examination which the students are encouraged to solve in groups. The effect on the students is measured through examination questions. Looking at the aggregate class performance, the ALAs through in-class questions and homeworks do not appear to have a significant effect, while the practice examination questions do. However, on segmenting the data, we observe that the ldquoArdquo students benefited from the in-class ALAs while both ldquoArdquo and ldquoBrdquo students benefited from the practice examinations. The worst performing students did not benefit significantly from any of the ALAs. This study leads us to investigate further the possibility of tailoring the ALA to the different learning styles and academic calibers of the students.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 2008. FIE 2008. 38th Annual

Date of Conference:

22-25 Oct. 2008