Experiential Learning Through Tangible Labs

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant Program

Grant recipient: Atousa Hajshirmohammadi, Engineering Science

Project team: Ling Zhu and Zhendong Cao, research assistants

Timeframe: April 2019 to November 2020

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: ENSC 220 – Electrical Circuits I

Final report: View Atousa Hajshirmohammadi's final report (PDF)

Description: Experiential learning as a method of delivering course material is well recognized at all levels of education, including higher education. ENSC 220 – Electric Circuits I covers an extensive range of electric circuit concepts, such as circuit quantities, elements, laws, and analysis methods. The enrollment in the course is in the range of 70 to 120 and that limits the amount of interaction the instructor can have with individual students during and/or outside of lectures. The course also includes a laboratory component where students meet weekly for 2.5 hours to build circuits related to the course content, observe the performance of the circuits, and measure and analyse input/output variables.

The aim of this project is to introduce a number of lab assignments with more “tangible” input/output variables. For example, building electrical circuits where electrical voltage is transformed into sound or light, and the effect of changing parameters within the circuit can be observed through changes in these variables.

I would like to find out how these changes in the lab assignments increase students’ engagement and interest in the course. I will investigate this question by observing and collecting data about students’ activities during lectures and labs. This will be done in two ways: 1) measuring parameters such as attendance, participation and performance in quizzes, etc., and 2) administering a students’ survey at the end of the semester.

Secondly, I would like to investigate is how these changes affect students’ understanding and learning. One approach is to compare students’ test results on similar questions this year with results of prior years (which did not include tangible labs).

Questions addressed:

  • How does adding tangible labs affect students’ interest and engagement in the course?
  • What are students’ opinions regarding whether adding tangible labs affects their interest and engagement in the course?
  • How does adding tangible labs affect students’ learning?
  • To what extent do students perceive the tangible labs as affecting their learning?

Knowledge sharing: I plan to present new findings of my project after the final integration of the labs with the course.

  • Teaching Matters Seminar, Poster presentation, September, 2019
  • Demofest, Oral Presentation, November 2019

Keywords: Engineering education, Electronics education, Experiential learning, Electrical circuit laboratory, Student engagement