|M.Sc Student||Yamin Netanel|
|Subject||Characteristics of a Basic Electrical Engineering Course|
that Incorporates "Real-World" Examples
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Dr. Aharon Gero|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
The basic electric circuits course is intended for sophomore electrical engineering students, after their completion of the introductory courses in mathematics and physics. The course focuses on analyzing lumped circuits, frequency domain analysis, and time domain transients. The literature indicates the little interest students have in the course, which they see as a technical course, providing nothing but skills to analyze electric circuits with minor relevance.
Recently, the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology has decided to try to increase students’ interest in the course in particular and in electrical engineering in general by means of integrating examples reflecting the diverse areas of study the Department offers and the various fields of practice in which electrical engineers are employed in the industry (hereinafter: “real-world” examples).
The study described here set out to characterize students’ attitudes toward the course and check if there was a difference in the motivation toward the study of electrical engineering between students who participated in the course in its new format (including examples from the “real-world”) and that of their peers who participated in the course in its original format (without examples). One hundred and twenty three sophomore electrical engineering students who participated in the course “Electric Circuit Theory” took part in the study. The students were given the choice of studying the course in one of two teaching groups, taught by different instructors. The first group (hereinafter: the experimental group) was taught according to the new format, which includes the integration of “real-world” examples. The second group (hereinafter: the control group) was taught the same contents for the same number of hours, but without the integration of examples. Both instructors were experienced and no significant difference was found between their teaching scores before the course.
The study identifies cognitive and affective components in students’ attitudes toward the course in its new format. In the cognitive aspect, the students believe that the course gave them relevant knowledge and that the level of teaching was appropriate. In the affective domain, the students found the course interesting thanks to the examples from the “real-world” that were integrated into it.
At the end of the course, the findings indicate a significant gap between the experimental group and the control group in relation to intrinsic motivation - a gap characterized by a small-medium effect size. This gap may be attributed to two out of three of the students’ basic needs being met during the improved course - which according to self-determination theory resulted in higher motivational levels. The need for relatedness was probably met by the students’ initial acquaintance with the areas of study in the Department and their exposure to the electrical engineer’s fields of practice. The need for competence was apparently met by a challenging - but not too high - level of teaching.