Signals and Systems is a core course in undergraduate electrical engineering curriculum. The concepts taught in this course become foundation knowledge for many advanced courses, which necessitates conceptual understanding of the topics in this course. Despite many attempts to make this course easy to understand for students, its conceptual understanding remains a challenge. This study aims to identify the hard parts of signals and systems courses by identifying the mistakes that undergraduate electrical engineering students continue to make in signals and systems related questions even after repeatedly applying the concepts in advanced courses. For this study, we have taken three questions related to the basic concepts (drawing of a sinusoidal signal, and Fourier analysis) in signals and systems courses and given in the midterm exam of sixty undergraduate electrical engineering students from one university while they were taking signals and systems course. The same three questions were given to the same sixty undergraduate electrical engineering students (in their digital signal processing midterm exam) who had already passed signals and systems and analog communication courses and were taking digital signal processing while they answered the three questions. All sixty students are divided in two sections and are consistently being taught by the same instructors. This means that all students were taught the concepts in the same way. The reason for taking the same exam of the same population twice with an interval of a year is to identify the mistakes that students make even after studying the concepts repeatedly in different contexts. The findings of this study will help to identify teaching strategies that can target the trending hard parts of signals and systems courses.
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