Circuit Analysis is one of those engineering courses that requires a lot of collaborative problem solving by students. Instructors often incorporate active learning involving in-class problem solving by students working in groups. However, the limited collaborative problem solving during class is not sufficient. To motivate students to practice the taught techniques outside the class they are frequently assigned homework.
The main challenge the author faced was to motivate students to put required effort into homework problems. Collaborating with peers to solve homework problems is always desired; however, students often tend to copy the solutions from others. Such students not only lack the expertise of implementing a specific technique, they also find it hard to learn new techniques. As the course proceeds such students begin to have difficulty in following lectures.
To overcome this challenge and motivate students to solve their homework problems by themselves while collaborating with other students, the author utilizes technology. Author makes it compulsory for each student to record a video explanation of his or her solution and share it with the instructor. To encourage collaboration among students, students are grouped in teams of two. Homework is graded based on student’s individual performance as well as overall group performance. Homework problems are assigned each week and groups are changed for every homework problem. This gives students a chance to work with different class members. Since video explanations make each student’s effort quite transparent, the author increased the contribution value of homework in the overall grade.
The author observed a very significant improvement in students’ performance after incorporating the video explanations. Student exam results improved, their interest and participation during class time increased, and they began considering the course as more enjoyable and less difficult.
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