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Charlottesville, VA, United States

Frolik J.,University of Vermont | Flikkema P.G.,University of Arizona | Weller T.,University of South Florida | Haden C.,Magnolia Consulting LLC | And 2 more authors.
Advances in Engineering Education

Individual faculty and institutions regularly develop novel educational materials that could benefit others, but these innovations often fail to gain traction outside the developers' circle as barriers to adoption are numerous. We present evidence that development targeting adaptation, rather than complete adoption, of innovative materials and methods may be a more successful approach. Specifically, if faculty members from multiple institutions are involved in the development, agility across diverse academic requirements and institutional cultures informs that process. In the described example, faculty members from multiple institutions developed online learning modules based on their individual areas of expertise related to the topic of wireless sensor networks. The modules integrated learning of systems thinking with traditional sub-disciplines in electrical and computer engineering and were delivered in a blended-learning format. While faculty from three institutions developed the original content for a single course, materials have been successfully utilized in multiple courses at several institutions. Source

Flikkema P.G.,Northern Arizona University | Yamamoto K.R.,Northern Arizona University | Haden C.,Magnolia Consulting LLC | Frolik J.,University of Vermont | Weller T.,University of South Florida
ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

In the last decade, it has become apparent that the grand challenge problems of this century span disciplines. In spite of this, engineering curricula are still strongly stovepiped, even within each engineering discipline, and both inertia and downward budget pressures encourage curricular conservatism. At the same time, the need is urgent to expose students to the diversity and complexity of real-world problems where there is no "best" solution. How should we help students learn across disciplines and blend disciplinary knowledge to solve problems? This paper describes a laboratory project suitable for courses in areas of control and embedded systems that weaves critical aspects of control systems design with real-time embedded systems hardware and software, and along the way incorporates additional skills and tools. The project builds on previous efforts that have used the classic "ball-in-tube" experimental platform. We have developed an extremely low-cost experimental platform that student teams assemble from simple parts (e.g., shoeboxes and muffin fans), and that uses wireless communication between the real-time platform and a personal computer that provides a human interface and analytical tools. For real-time data acquisition and control, we adopted the CLIO platform that was designed for the experiential component of MUSE (Multi-University Systems Education, www.uvm.edu/~muse), an NSF-sponsored pedagogical effort to increase the ability of students to become conversant in skills related to systems thinking. In this spirit, the work discussed herein exposes students to experimentation, modeling and design across system layers. While tackling the project, students have also become more adept at (i) architecting distributed applications that integrate embedded and desktop computing systems, (ii) data acquisition, including measurement noise and signal conditioning, (iii) actuation, including motor control, and (iv) wireless communication. We present early assessment results evaluating how effectively the project helps students build critical systems-thinking skills, and the challenges of adopting resources for fast-tracking the development of new laboratory projects. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Source

Weller T.,University of South Florida | Frolik J.,University of Vermont | Flikkema P.G.,Northern Arizona University | Shiroma W.A.,University of Hawaii at Manoa | And 2 more authors.
ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

A multi-university, NSF CCLI collaboration has developed a series of on-line learning modules and experiential projects intended to elucidate complex, systems-oriented concepts in the context of wireless sensor networks (WSN). Together these modules and projects comprise the essential content of a complete undergraduate course on WSN. As it is often challenging to add new courses to existing degree programs, ease of portability of the developed material has been emphasized. The goal was to facilitate selective integration into existing curricula, thereby enhancing sub-discipline-specific courses with systems-centric learning. In this paper, the adoption of systems-oriented material from the WSN course into existing courses on RF/microwave theory and design at three institutions is described. One of the adopters was involved in the original development of the material, and two additional adopters were not. One of the adopting institutions modified a course on introductory microwave circuit design, which traditionally addressed topics such as transmission line theory, network theory and design techniques for various passive components including filters, matching networks and couplers. In the revised format, each topic is now covered in the context of satellite/cellular communications sub-system design and analysis. The on-line modules from the WSN course on system design concepts have been woven into the syllabus, and links between wireless sensor networks and communications networks are discussed. To accommodate the new material, less emphasis is placed on certain specific microwave components, which are often the subject of advanced courses. Early course assessment results indicate that the introductory systems-oriented material increases student interest in RF/microwave circuit design and improves understanding of how the performance of RF hardware impacts overall system performance. Instructor feedback indicates that the modules are effective in giving students a different and broader perspective on course content and in enhancing the systems thinking emphasis in their existing courses. In another implementation, the WSN course material was used to supplement an introductory course on RF systems for undergraduates. The material provided an alternative viewpoint on RF components used in system design and exposure to advanced RF technologies, such as RF MEMS used as switches and for re-configurability, not easily available in an introductory published text used for the undergraduates. Students viewed this additional content as very useful to exposing them to advanced topics related to future RF systems. The three examples of porting the WSN course material into sub-discipline-specific courses are detailed in this paper, including a description of the supplementary material that was developed to effectively merge the new content. A common outcome was that these materials effectively helped students develop conceptual frameworks that enhanced their understanding of multilayered systems. All the developed course content is available through the project website www.uvm.edu/~muse. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Source

Roberts M.W.,University of Wisconsin - Platteville | Haden C.,Magnolia Consulting LLC | Thompson M.K.,University of Wisconsin - Platteville | Parker P.J.,University of Wisconsin - Platteville
ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

As part of ongoing assessment of student learning in a new undergraduate civil and environmental engineering course, faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville have developed a concept map instrument. A major goal of the new course is to introduce students to infrastructure and help them understand civil and environmental engineering in terms of interconnected systems. In fact, the course was originally designed and added to the curriculum in an effort to help students think of the civil and environmental engineering profession as an integrated whole, rather than as distinct sub-disciplines that are taught in separate courses. Based on these goals of the course, concept maps were ideally suited to evaluating the systems-wide perspective that students are intended to gain. This paper provides background on the new course, documents the theory and application of concept maps in assessment, and describes how the concept map assessment instrument was used to evaluate student cognitive gains in the course. Results of the concept map assessment show that the course is helping students to think more holistically about non- Technical and societal aspects of engineering; however, students showed minimal gains in identifying various types of infrastructure in the built environment. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2014. Source

Shannon L.C.,Magnolia Consulting LLC | Styers M.K.,Magnolia Consulting LLC | Wilkerson S.B.,Magnolia Consulting LLC | Peery E.,Magnolia Consulting LLC
Computers in the Schools

This study evaluated the efficacy of Accelerated Reader, a computer-based learning program, at improving student reading. Accelerated Reader is a progress-monitoring, assessment, and practice tool that supports classroom instruction and guides independent reading. Researchers used a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the program with 344 first- through fourth-grade students in three schools in a large Midwestern U.S. city. The results of hierarchical linear modelling analyses indicated that the computer-assisted learning program had a statistically significant positive impact on student reading gains when compared with traditional reading instruction alone. The impact corresponded to a moderate effect size (d = 0.38). © 2015, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Source

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