Relating engineering technology students' experiences in electromagnetics with performance in communications coursework: A mixed-methods study
Grant P. Richards, Purdue University, United States
Purdue University . Awarded
This study presents the results of a multi-year mixed-methods study of students’ performance (n = 94) and experiences ( n = 28) with electromagnetics in an elective Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology RF communications course. Data sources used in this study include academic transcripts, course exams, interviews, a learning styles assessment and a spatial aptitude test. The study presents and examines demographics of the population including performance on standardized admission tests, learning styles preferences and spatial aptitude. Performance metrics are provided for five topic areas in mathematics and three topic areas in electromagnetics.
Students’ experiences in the course are examined and a number of significant factors relating to their experience with electromagnetics in the course were analyzed using a phenomenographical framework. Significant factors in students’ experiences with electromagnetics in the course include mathematical concepts, visual tools, laboratory exercises and course references. Students in the course have a high degree of spatial ability and prefer visual, hands-on learning activities which present concepts in a logical and sequential manner.
Key findings are that students are challenged by the mathematical requirements of the course and are unable to relate numerical values with electromagnetic phenomena. Prerequisite mathematics coursework requirements do not cover all mathematical concepts required to examine electromagnetic in the course. The limited time available to present these concepts in the course is not sufficient to address the absence of additional mathematics coursework. A large segment of students in the course have transfered from other academic majors and have completed additional mathematics coursework. These students have a higher average performance on mathematics problems appearing in the course.
Richards, G.P. Relating engineering technology students' experiences in electromagnetics with performance in communications coursework: A mixed-methods study. Ph.D. thesis, Purdue University.
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