Course: Electrical Fundamentals and Applications (required core course)
Students: 41 | Juniors and seniors | non-engineering majors
Interest level: minimum
• Email- announcements and deadlines
• Blackboard- displaying grades only
• Email- sending handwritten class notes
• Course website- assignments, solutions, lesson plans
• Entry/exit slips: (1) to assess problem solving skills, and (2) to collect feedback about learning process
• Before midterm: traditional lecturing
• After midterm:
- Handwritten notes + document camera + chalkboard
- Practice problems with final answers: students work individually or in groups to get the correct answer
Official mid-semester student feedback/reaction (selected)
• "I don't like when the instructor assumes that students know how to solve problems once a sample problem is solved on the board."
- A practice problem was given after every topic we covered. Students get sufficient time to solve it on their own or seek help from me or their colleagues.
• "No objectives, no notes. I follow and understand in class but I don't commit the information to long-term memory."
- Learning objectives and outcomes were shared either on the handwritten handouts or on the projector. Exit slips were used to enforce understanding of certain topics.
• "I wish we could go over some homework problems."
- At the beginning of every class, HW assignments along with detailed solutions were briefly displayed on the projector. Students would ask me to clarify certain points.
• "I need a little extra time to draw out the circuit diagrams."
- Handwritten handouts partially solved this problem. They included most of the circuit diagrams needed. They allowed students to spend their time solving a problem instead of copying a drawing.
• "Sometimes you can be all over. Lecture sometimes lacks structure."
- Having the learning objectives visible at all times improved the structure of instruction. The handwritten handouts helped students follow the sequence of topics and understand how they are interconnected.
Official end-of-semester student feedback (selected)
• "Make handouts clearer."
- I invested a lot of time during the winter break to digitize the handouts for the spring semester. I used Microsoft Word and Microsoft Visio, along with images from the textbook.
• "Add YouTube videos to provide either a new perspective or to help demonstrate solving a problem."
- I did not provide links to extra instruction, but the instructors' team added supplemental material on the course website for students interested in further readings. The new handouts included steps for a correct problem solving process next to every example problem.
• "Quizzes should not be as difficult." "HW grading is harsh."
- I started thinking about HWs and quizzes as learning tools instead of graded components of the course. I spent more time designing the quizzes to match as many learning styles as possible.
Personal end-of-semester questionnaire
It was given to the students during the very last class while we were working on a course-review problem set. It was in the form of an exit slip and students were asked whether they liked, disliked, or had neutral feelings about (1) the handwritten handouts, (2) having access to final answers for the HW problems, and (3) having a weekly quiz. The statistical pie charts are on this page.
• Same-department colleague
- Feedback about content (the way I represented potential difference) and using analogies
- Give students more time to think/respond when you ask a question
- Get them up: (1) use group solving on the chalkboard or (2) randomly call names and ask questions
- No solid student feedback about entry/exit slips
- Mid-semester evaluations were a turning point
The good stuff
"You have been a fantastic instructor and I recommended you to my peers and you are a good fit for the academy."
"Like wine, you got better with time."
"Handouts were awesome. They were extremely helpful."
"Handouts and in-class exercises gave me a chance to work on the material as it is being taught, and a chance to ask questions in a personal setting (more or less)."