Analysis and Design of Control Systems is a core course in most Electrical Engineering programs in the United States. This course typically includes topics such as fundamental mathematical background on complex numbers, logarithm calculations, establishing and solving differential equations, Laplace Transform, and new knowledge on stability criteria and controller design. In addition, this course integrates theoretic analysis and real-world applications to prepare students for their senior design projects. However, at our university, a substantial mathematical foundation is required and the lack of this preparation in our student population has been a main source of challenge, resulting in lower student interest, many D and F grades, and substantial withdrawal (DFW) rates in our classes.
To address this, we have created an innovative teaching approach to increase students’ performance by differentiating instruction to each student based on his/her understanding of key knowledge points in the lectures measured through an adaptive assessment system. In this approach, we designed a series of online quizzes according to lectures and adaptively assigned exercises/homework to students with respect to their mistakes in their quizzes. For students who did not meet a specific knowledge point, a video lecture was assigned to reinforce the lecture material and a follow-up quiz was designed to examine the improvement in understanding. Instructors would modify the following-up lectures based on the students’ performance in quiz grades in a timely manner and form a fundamental knowledge-point-based feedback loop for instruction. Feedback loops on exam preparation and self-evaluation system were established by pre-exam preparation survey (input), adaptive load for preparation, exam results (output), and post-exam survey (feedback). With this adaptive release mechanism, students were able to review the knowledge points before exams, improve understanding of specific topics with extra work, and efficiently review the course material for exam preparation.
This paper presents an evaluation of our course design. Achievement data of 87 students have been collected and analyzed by an evaluation model associating attendance of each student, time spent on exam preparation and homework, number of office hours visits and study groups attended for exam preparation, to outcomes of the course. Our results showed a significant increase in engagement of student and remaining enthusiasms of students partially due to the increase in direct interaction between instructor and individual student by this adaptive release mechanism. In the previous teaching cycles, an average of 18% DFW rate was observed in this course. With the adaptive release, there was no withdraw from the class and DFW rate was reduced to 10%.
(Regular Presentation Preference)
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