Active Techniques Implemented in an Introductory Signal Processing Course to Help Students Achieve Higher Levels of Learning.

Papers on Engineering Education Repository (2018)
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Holding students to high standards and assessing, measuring and evaluating their learning with challenging, authentic problems in the midterm and final exams is the goal of the professors who teach core signal processing concepts. However, the heavy reliance of these subjects on mathematics makes it difficult for students to genuinely grasp the concepts and relate to a conceptual framework. Specifically, analyzing the signals and the functionality of systems in Fourier domain; separating the system level analysis from signal level analysis; and understanding how they are related in time domain and frequency domain are among the most challenging concepts. Students’ lower grades observed over past years in the introductory signal processing course exposed a potential disconnect between the actual level of learning and the high expectations set by the professors. In this paper, we present the active learning techniques that we implemented in one of the summer session offerings of this course in our department. The research explored Peer Instruction, pre-class reading quizzes and post-lecture quizzes. In addition to the mid and end of the quarter survey results, the comparison analysis of the grades students achieved in the active learning integrated course in the second summer session and the standard course offered in first summer session is discussed. According to our results, the developed techniques helped students in the active classroom perform significantly better than their peers participating in standard lectures when tested by challenging questions in their exams.


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