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Work in progress — The costs and benefits of using alternative approaches in lecture-based courses: Experience in electrical engineering

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2 Author(s)
Jill Auerbach ; Georgia Institute of Technology ; Bonnie Ferri

Engineering programs across the country promote the success of their courses to engage students through the use of hands-on projects, cooperative learning and other non-traditional educational strategies. While alternative strategies to lecture-based instruction are preferable in many ways, there are formidable obstacles to their widespread implementation. The goal of a project funded by an NSF CCLI grant addresses several of these obstacles through the use of portable, low-cost experiment modules in traditional lecture-based courses to enhance the learning environment. This research describes the introduction of these experiments at a top tier university and the lessons learned about implementing a cohesive program of hands-on experiments in several courses that do not have lab components. The challenges associated with both integrating experiments in long-running lecture-only classes and evaluating the impact on students is examined. The experience of using a quasi-experimental design to more fully understand both the costs and benefits of using portable experiments in a Systems and Controls course is also discussed, which highlights the inherent costs and potential benefits of integrating hands-on experiments in lecture-style courses.

Published in:

2010 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)

Date of Conference:

27-30 Oct. 2010