was able to jump right into MATLAB [for the first time] without
being intimidated and realize that it was a tool rather than the
"Being able to see our design tested and working in the software
helped make the concepts sink in."
"The technology was helpful because you can simulate your design
and get a real "hands-on" feel for the hardware."
Foundation Coalition Students
Faculty have used technology in numerous ways: Power Point presentations,
course web pages, web-based courses, integrating computers into
classrooms, using laboratories as learning activities, etc. Here,
the focus is on putting computer-related technologies in the hands
of students on a routine basis to facilitate their learning, change
their learning objectives, and reshape their learning processes.
Several examples are presented to illustrate the types of changes
that have been made.
Example: Creating Interactive
Learning Environments across the Foundation Coalition
across the Foundation Coalition (FC) have built or renovated
classrooms to facilitate active/cooperative learning, student
teams, and everyday use of technology in the classroom. Like
other FC partners, the University of Alabama has completely
restructured its introductory curricula for Computer Science,
Computer Engineering, and Management Information Systems majors.
Faculty members teach introductory courses using active learning
remodeled classrooms. All class materials, e.g., syllabus, assignments,
and lecture notes, are available on course web sites, and students
can preview material before class and come prepared with questions.
In addition, class discussions and on-line checking of grades
are available via the web site. FC partners can share designs,
cost estimates and assessments for numerous classroom designs,
both new and remodeled.
Students at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
use computers in the classroom to monitor, display, and analyze
data on objects moving on the air track.
Example: Teaching Circuits
at Texas A&M University
|Faculty teach circuits
in a classroom in which students use laptop computers, National
Instruments (NI) virtual instruments, and a NI breadboard with
a computer interface (designed in conjunction with faculty at
A&M). Students perform experiments in the classroom to reinforce
concepts presented in lecture. For example, students can design
a single stage amplifier, predict its performance via analysis
and simulation, construct the amplifier and compare measured
and predicted performance.
Example: Teaching physics
via modeling at Arizona State University1
Through designing and verifying models students build their conceptual
understanding of physics. For each physics topic students work through
two stages of the modeling cycle: model development and model deployment.
In model development, students describe a physical situation, collect
data, formulate a model that reflects relevant features of the situation,
and verify their model using measured data. In model deployment,
students apply their model to new situations. The generic and flexible
format of the two stage modeling cycle can be adapted to any physics
Example: Studio classrooms
at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute2
Studio classrooms integrate lectures, laboratories, and recitations
into a single physical space. Students listen to explanations and
then conduct experimental explorations to reinforce their understanding
of concepts. A typical 2-hour studio physics session, for example,
reviews assigned readings and exercises. Then students move to an
experiment that may involve a motion detector with a computer interface
to measure the velocity of a falling golf ball. The session often
ends with a "mini-lecture" that summarizes what students
have learned and assigns homework.
Example: Rose-Hulman requires
Students use applications such as Maple, MATLAB and Excel to perform
routine symbolic, numerical and graphical computations throughout
their engineering curricula: in-class activities, homework and examinations.
As a result, they focus less on rote manipulation and more on concepts,
realistic problems and reasonable answers. In a physics laboratory,
for example, students acquire and graph data to help them visualize
the magnetic field of a pair of Helmholtz coils.
References for further information
- Wells, M., Hestenes, D. & Swackhamer, G., "A modeling
method for high school physics instruction," Am. J. Phys.
63: 606-619, 1995.
- Wilson, J. and W. Jennings, "Studio Courses: How Information
Technology is Changing the Way We Teach, On Campus and Off,"
Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 88, no. 1, January 2000, pp. 72-80.
- Kiaer L., D. Mutchler, and J. Froyd, "Laptop Computers
and the Integrated First-Year Curriculum at Rose-Hulman Institute
of Technology", CACM, 41(1), Jan. 1988, pp. 45-49.
- Kolb, D.A., Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source
of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall,
- Harb, J., S. Durrant, and R. Terry, "Use of the Kolb Learning
Cycle and the 4MAT System in Engineering Education," J. Eng.
Ed., 83(2), April 1993, pp. 70-77.
- Chen, J., M. Ellis, J. Lockhart, S. Hamoush, C. Brawner and
J. Tront, "Technology in Engineering Education: What Do the
Faculty Know and Want?" J. Eng. Ed. 89(3), July 2000, pp.
2001 Foundation Coalition. All rights reserved. Last modified