Introductory electronic circuits courses with a lab component are typically taught in a standard lecture-lab format where lecture and lab are taught as separate classes potentially by different instructors. The lecture portion of the course typically involves the Professor delivering a ‘chalk-talk’ about circuit analysis techniques and the lab portion of the course typically involves students measuring voltages and currents in provided circuits with electronic test equipment. Two major problems arise with this method of teaching: 1. Students often do not see the connection between what they are learning in lecture with what they are doing in lab and 2. Students often do not see a connection with what they are doing in lab with real-world applications. Without being able to directly implement what they learn in lecture to a practical and useful real-world example or problem, students become disinterested in the subject and may even choose to leave the major.
This paper discusses an attempt to modify the structure and content of an introductory electronic circuits course to make the course more engaging for students to hopefully increase retention of students within the major. The course’s “studio format” (a course where lecture and lab are combined) focuses on providing students with multiple opportunities to directly apply what they are learning in lecture to real-world applications in a laboratory setting. The paper discusses the course’s format and its weekly integrated lab activities. It then discusses the student and instructor reactions to the course and compares them with student and instructor reactions to the course taught in the traditional format. Finally, the paper discusses lessons learned and suggestions for future offerings as well as plans for tracking how the course affects student retention.
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