# Higher-level learning in an electrical engineering linear systems course

 dc.contributor.author Chen, Jia dc.date.accessioned 2015-04-30T13:24:50Z dc.date.available 2015-04-30T13:24:50Z dc.date.graduationmonth May en_US dc.date.issued 2015-04-30 dc.date.published 2015 en_US dc.description.abstract Linear Systems (a.k.a., Signals and Systems) is an important class in an Electrical Engineering curriculum. A clear understanding of the topics in this course relies on a well-developed notion of lower-level mathematical constructs and procedures, including the roles these procedures play in system analysis. Students with an inadequate math foundation regularly struggle in this class, as they are typically able to perform sequences of the underlying calculations but cannot piece together the higher-level, conceptual relationships that drive these procedures. This dissertation describes an investigation to assess and improve students’ higher-level understanding of Linear Systems concepts. The focus is on the topics of (a) time-domain, linear time-invariant (LTI) system response visualization and (b) Fourier series conceptual understanding, including trigonometric Fourier series (TFS), compact trigonometric Fourier series (CTFS), and exponential Fourier series (EFS). Support data, including exam and online homework data, were collected since 2004 from students enrolled in ECE 512 - Linear Systems at Kansas State University. To assist with LTI response visualization, two online homework modules, Zero Input Response and Unit Impulse Response, were updated with enhanced plots of signal responses and placed in use starting with the Fall 2009 semester. To identify students’ conceptual weaknesses related to Fourier series and to help them achieve a better understanding of Fourier series concepts, teaching-learning interviews were applied between Spring 2010 and Fall 2012. A new concept-based online homework module was also introduced in Spring 2011. Selected final exam problems from 2007 to 2012 were analyzed, and these data were supplemented with detailed mid-term and final exam data from 77 students enrolled in the Spring 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters. In order to address these conceptual learning issues, two frameworks were applied: Bloom’s Taxonomy and APOS theory. The teaching-learning interviews and online module updates appeared to be effective treatments in terms of increasing students’ higher-level understanding. Scores on both conceptual exam questions and more traditional Fourier series exam questions were improved relative to scores received by students that did not receive those treatments. en_US dc.description.advisor Steven Warren en_US dc.description.degree Doctor of Philosophy en_US dc.description.department Electrical and Computer Engineering en_US dc.description.level Doctoral en_US dc.description.sponsorship National Science Foundation en_US dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2097/19171 dc.language.iso en_US en_US dc.publisher Kansas State University en dc.subject Linear systems en_US dc.subject Interviews en_US dc.subject Online assignments en_US dc.subject Conceptual understanding en_US dc.subject APOS theory en_US dc.subject.umi Electrical Engineering (0544) en_US dc.title Higher-level learning in an electrical engineering linear systems course en_US dc.type Dissertation en_US

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