Hands-on Activities for Continuous-Time Signals and Systems Courses

June 6-8, 2016 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN

Student ECG

Students measuring their own ECG through a 1st order filter using the SSEP.

This workshop offers engineering and science faculty an engaging opportunity to explore the following issues:

  1. Explore why students struggle so much with concepts particularly in continuous-time signals and systems (CTSS) courses, but also in other abstract conceptually difficult courses such as electromagnetics and control systems,

  2. identify various approaches to make conceptually difficult material more accessible to students, and

  3. provide an opportunity to try out and develop new hands-on activities that can engage students with real-world applications of abstract concepts.

This workshop will take place at Rose-Hulman and is supported by an NSF grant. Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis. For manageability we would like to keep the size of the workshop to 10 or fewer attendees. A more detailed description of the workshop is given below. Details regarding previous workshops, publications, and other information regarding this project can be found here: web.rose-hulman.edu/groups/SignalsEducation/

Intended Audience

This workshop is intended for engineering and science faculty and prospective faculty (including graduate students) who are interested in improving learning in CTSS and other mathematically intensive courses such as control systems, biomedical signal processing, and electromagnetics.

How to Register

Interested parties should notify Mario Simoni (see contact information below and above) by the end of May 2016. Please provide the following information:

  • Full name and contact information
  • School
  • Subjects that you teach

Timing of the Workshop

June 6-8, 2016.

This workshop will begin at 9 AM on Monday, June 6 and end at noon on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

Registration Fees, Room and Board, and Transportation

  • The workshop is free to all participants, but participants must register.
  • A private room at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Terre Haute will be covered for the nights of Sunday, June 5 leaving on Wednesday, June 8. Breakfast at the hotel is included.
  • All meals and snacks will be provided by the workshop from dinner on Sunday, June 5 through breakfast on Wednesday, June 8.
  • Individuals are responsible for all transportation arrangements to and from Terre Haute. A shuttle will be provided between the hotel and Rose-Hulman. 

Workshop Location

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is located in Terre Haute, IN and is situated approximately one hour West of Indianapolis on I-70.  Terre Haute is within driving distance of a number of major cities, including St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati. For more information, visit www.rose-hulman.edu/about/location-directions.aspx and www.terrehaute.in.gov.

What this Workshop Provides

  • Monday Morning: an interactive discussion of how cognitive learning theory can provide insights into the sources of difficulty in CTSS and other conceptually difficult courses.
  • Monday afternoon – Tuesday afternoon: a hands-on experience with application-oriented analog-circuit-based laboratories that engage students and help them explain real-world experiences with CTSS concepts.
  • Tuesday afternoon – Wednesday noon: an opportunity to begin developing your own hands-on activities.

Highly theoretical and mathematical courses in electrical and computer engineering (ECE) curricula have drop/failure rates that are significantly higher than other required ECE courses. According to historical data at Rose-Hulman, the introductory CTSS course is the most difficult ECE course that students encounter. Based on feedback received during previous offerings of this workshop, this situation is similar at many other schools. While many professors assert that the problem lies with the students’ inadequate mathematics preparation, we believe, and have evidence to suggest, that the problem is much more multifaceted than that. We have received NSF funding to better understand the students’ difficulties and determine effective methods to help students grasp the concepts. To help explore the difficulties and misconceptions that students face, we will spark an interactive discussion by presenting data from surveys, focus groups, student interviews, historical data, the CTSS concept inventory, and the Index of Learning Styles and also look at this data in relation to various theories of conceptual learning.  To stimulate ideas on how to help students understand the material, attendees will perform hands-on application-oriented activities that we have found to be very effective learning opportunities for students. These activities provide real-world experiences that can only be understood by applying the CTSS concepts. All activities are based on analog-circuits in order to make them truly continuous time. A configurable analog-circuit platform, the Signals and Systems Exploration Platform (SSEP), was developed at Rose-Hulman in order to more quickly and easily set up the activities so that the focus could be on the CTSS concepts rather than building the circuits. All attendees will be given an opportunity to develop their own activities during the workshop and will receive one SSEP to take back to their host institution. 

Applications should be sent and questions addressed to:

Dr. Mario Simoni
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Terre Haute, IN 47803
Telephone: 812-870-8341
E-mail: simoni@rose-hulman.edu 


Direct Questions to:

Dr. Mario Simoni
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Terre Haute, IN 47803