The objective of this work in progress study is to determine if a series of guided inquiry type tutorials increases junior-level electrical engineering student knowledge gain in electrostatics. The tutorials will require periodic use of an electronic student response system to improve student’s deeper conceptual understanding of the best method to solve standard electrostatics problems. The electromagnetics (EM) class that is targeted covers more than just electrostatics but improvements to electrostatics portion of the course is the focus of this paper.
STEM education research shows that a student-centered classroom where active learning takes place leads to an increased knowledge gain over the typical lecture style course. Our goal is to transform a junior-level engineering EM course to an active learning environment that utilizes peer instruction techniques. As a pilot program we will focus on transforming the electrostatics module of the course. If the study shows the techniques to be successful in the electrostatics module, similar methods will be implemented to transform the rest of the course. Based on the successfulness of the EM course transformation, plans will be made to transform other upper-level Electrical Engineering courses in the future.
The Colorado Upper Division Electrostatics Diagnostics - Coupled Multiple Response version 9 (CUE-CMR) will be administered as a pre-test before electrostatics content is covered in the course and again at the end of the electrostatics module. The CUE-CMR is a well validated conceptual exam that has been administered to over 500 students at different universities. The CUE-CMR results contain data allowing for comparison between a traditional lecture style course and a transformed classroom. The pre-test results will establish a baseline in student knowledge. The post- test results will be used to assess knowledge gain. The results of the CUE-CMR from our class will be compared to previously reported CUE-CMR results for standard lecture classes and interactive learning classes. Knowledge gain will be determined by the Hake score, which is computed from the difference of the averages of the post- and pre- test scores normalized to the pre-test score. These knowledge gain results will be compared with the published gains achieved from interactive teaching methods.
The implementation of the instructional method changes to the electrostatics content will be realized in the spring 2018 Engineering EM course with results available by May 2018.
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