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Shifting the Responsibility of Learning in First Year Electrical Engineering Students.

Shifting the Responsibility of Learning in First Year Electrical Engineering Students.

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Shifting the Responsibility of Learning in First Year Electrical Engineering Students.

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  1. George Gibbon Associate Professor School of Electrical and Information Engineering University of the Witwatersrand South Africa http://www.dept.ee.wits.ac.za/~gibbon Shifting the Responsibility of Learning in First Year Electrical EngineeringStudents.

  2. Overview • The students we get (Raw material) • Support programmes • Society’s requirements • Problem solving and critical thinking • How (Electric Circuits) • Results

  3. The raw material Clever students (IQ)! (TV/Computer generation) • Possibly with no engineering aptitude or interest Result of “Internationalisation” of the South African secondary education system (1994) Success based on rote learning techniques • Dependence on teachers for • Material to be learnt • Learning techniques • Examination techniques • Spotting of examination questions Students are totally dependent on their teachers, in a comfort zone, with little imagination, low self-confidence and no intrinsic-motivation.

  4. The raw material Clever students (IQ)! (TV/Computer generation) • Possibly with no engineering aptitude or interest Result of “Internationalisation” of the South African secondary education system (1994) Success based on rote learning techniques • Dependence on teachers for • Material to be learnt • Learning techniques • Examination techniques • Spotting of examination questions Students are totally dependent on their teachers, in a comfort zone, with little imagination, low self-confidence and no intrinsic-motivation.

  5. Support (“Scaffolding”) Programmes Programmes: • Pre-University Bursary Scheme (1986) • College of Science • Engineering Foundation Programme (1994) • Compulsory Small-group Tutorials (1994) Side Effects: • Increased failure rate in third and fourth year • Increased failure of the design and research projects in fourth year (Honours year)

  6. Requirements Society (ECSA):Engineers must: Creatively and innovatively identify, assess, formulate and solve convergent and divergent problems using: • mathematical and numerical analysis • statistical methods • physical laws • techniques and principles of engineering science • knowledge of the world (financial, ethical, environmental) and communicate their results*. University (Government): Pass more students without changing standards. The School:Increase throughput and eliminate failure in the 3rd and4th years. *Outcome of all University degrees

  7. Problem solving requires “Self-motivated and Creative Critical Thinkers” • Identify and challenge all assumptions • Imagine and explore alternatives • Emotive as well as rational • Reject standard formats of problem solving • Have multiple perspectives on problems • Use trial-and-error and alternative approaches in experimentation • Embrace change optimistically • Self confident and trust in their own judgement

  8. Creative Critical Thinking (Brookfield 1987) • A process not an outcome • Internal, but usually connected with an externally imposed crisis. • A productive and positive activity. Discouraged by: • Governments, religious leaders, university and industry administrations, peers etc. • Cornerstone of democracy • If a problem already has a solution there is no problem!! • You cannot teach people “problem solving” by providing them with the solution (see 1). (Gibbon)

  9. What we decided to do? • Remove the comfort zone (externally imposed crisis) • Introduce the use of imagination, visualisation and the fun of exploration • “Force” self-responsibility (intrinsic-motivation) • Build self-confidence (Empower the students)

  10. Two formal tests and an exam.

  11. Electric Circuits Laboratory 1: • Using the supplied components build the “Amplifier with Gain=20” on page 5 of the attached LM386 data sheet. • Demonstrate the output of the amplifier with an appropriate input signal supplied to the microphone. Attached are laboratory assignments “Introduction to the Oscilloscope” and “Introduction to the Digital Multi-meter” which may help you to test the amplifier and demonstrate the output signal.

  12. Management of the imposed crisis The stages psychologists associate with a loss: • Shock • Denial • Strong emotion • Resistance and withdrawal • Struggle and exploration • Return of confidence • Integration and success. Foundation / Special Programmes

  13. Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) • Students were aware that the more actively they participated in the course the more likely they were to have made gains in critical and independent thinking. • The weakest group, even when pushed by the interviewer, would not blame the lecturers or the university for their failures and accepted responsibility - a very unusual phenomena.

  14. Feedback from the Tutors Tutors feel at least 80% of the class reallyknow how to use an oscilloscope.

  15. Results Electric Circuits Results: 2004

  16. Mathematics II What had we done to the students? For the first time they were: • well behaved • attentive • prepared for both the lectures and tutorials • reading ahead without instructions to do so.

  17. In conclusion Courses continuing the teaching philosophy • Engineering Skills and Design Course (1st year) • Electronics I, Software Engineering I (2nd year) • Electronics II (3rd year) • Measurement Systems (4th year) The future • Involve all the staff and service courses We are Developing the imagination, self-confidence, intrinsic-motivation, critical thinking and problem solving skills of our students.