USING EXPERIMENTAL CENTRIC LEARNING PEDAGOGY TO IMPROVE ECE EDUCATION IN THE USA AND AFRICA
This paper will present preliminary results from a 4 year collaboration of 13 electrical and computer engineering (ECE) programs in the USA that are working collaboratively on the development, implementation, and expansion of Experimental Centric based instructional Pedagogy (ECP) in essentially all engineering courses in which electronics plays a significant role. ECP consists of instructional methods that allow students to use portable laboratory instrumentation to learn through hands-on practices, experiential learning, and group work from anywhere at anytime. Two collaborating institutions have previously implemented ECP in some of their courses (2010-2013), notably first year introduction to ECE and basic circuits and electronics using the Mobile Studio instrumentation board. This paper will present the preliminary results of the expansion of the ECP technology and pedagogy from two institutions to 13 using the Analog Discovery instrumentation board. The authors have also implemented a similar technology and pedagogy at several universities in Africa, including Ethiopia (5 universities), South Africa, and Nigeria.
As of June 2016, the 13 participating institutions have produced, piloted, and internally distributed 64 curriculum modules and/or labs. This material represented six major content domains (electrical engineering, computer systems engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, industrial management engineering). The developed curriculum materials and modules are being piloted in a variety of instructional settings including classrooms, labs, practicum experiences, and a combination of graded and non-graded experiences. This effort is supported and is being sustained through professional development for faculty offered through midyear and end of year workshops, attended by all sites; Activities included development and sharing of curriculum, sharing of hands-on practice and innovative use, planning for new modes of common assessment, cooperative sharing of resources, and discussions of national and local assessment issues. In addition to these meetings, all institutes participated in twice-monthly teleconferences which provided additional information on innovative practices, shared problem solving, and solution generation. Weekly leadership meetings were used to plan for these sessions and to develop means of assisting local site implementation. A similar approach has been successfully implemented at 5 universities in Ethiopia with great results, including providing better access to laboratory instrumentation to all students and allowing senior students to engage in more advanced capstone design projects.
ECP is being implemented in such a large number of educational environments at the 13 partner schools, that most practical barriers are being identified and addressed. This paper will report on how the partners have created unique versions of pre-tested modules, experiments, units etc. that address a small number of fundamental concepts in circuits and electronics. It will discuss the short and long term outcomes of this project based on assessment data that has been collected over a two year period. The study concludes on the implications of these influences and the need for further research on how students, faculty, and instructional practices change when using experimental centric learning.