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

June 19-21, 2014, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Student ECG

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

  1. Why do students struggle so much with concepts in continuous-time signals and systems (CTSS) courses?
  2. Identifying various approaches to make conceptually difficult material more accessible to students
  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.

Financial Information

  • Workshop Tuition and Meals: Supported by the NSF
  • On-campus housing with an individual bedroom is also supported by NSF (complete bedding is provided, but attendees must bring a towel)
  • Individuals are responsible for all travel arrangements, including off-campus housing expenses if desired.

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.

Timing of the Workshop

June 19-21, 2014

This workshop will begin on the morning of Thursday, June 19 and end at noon on Saturday, June 21. Please note that the 121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition will take place on Sunday–Wednesday, June 15–18 in Indianapolis, and that Terre Haute is only 1 hour drive from Indianapolis.

Workshop Location

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is located in Terre Haute, IN and is situated approximately 1 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 and www.terrehaute.in.gov.

How to Apply

Interested parties should notify Mario Simoni (see contact information above) by May 5, 2014. Please provide the following information:

  • Full name and contact information
  • School
  • Subjects that you teach
  • Approximate number of students per section

Detailed Purpose of the Workshop

The primary purposes of this workshop are to provide:

  • an interactive discussion of how cognitive learning theory can provide insights into the sources of difficulty in CTSS courses
  • an opportunity to provide input and insight into cognitive experiments that we are conducting in order to better understand those difficulties
  • a hands-on experience with application-oriented analog-circuit-based laboratories that engage students and help them explain real-world experiences with CTSS concepts
  • 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.

Direct Questions to:

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