A mixed learning approach to integrating digital signal processing laboratory exercises into a non-lab junior year DSP course

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Advances in Engineering Education

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Laboratory courses can be difficult to fit into an engineering program at a liberal arts-focused university, which requires students to be exposed to appropriate breadth, as well as sufficient depth in their engineering education. One possible solution to this issue is to integrate laboratory exercises with lecture in a 'studio' format, in which students apply lecture concepts directly to in-class assignments. Another possible solution is to give students 'take-home' laboratory assignments. Both of these methods have shortcomings: the studio format takes away valuable lecture time, and the take-home format provides limited access to the instructor. As such, this work presents a mixed learning method that includes lectures and laboratory work in both the studio and take-home formats, implemented in a junior level signal processing course. Students learn skills during lecture in studio laboratory exercises, and apply these skills to two in-depth take-home projects. Students refine their applied skills during projects, thereby informing a better studio lab experience. In order to assess the student's developed skills, project results are delivered as research papers formatted to comply with IEEE standards, which are submitted for blind review to several faculty members, as well as their peers. Reviewers employ a prescriptive rubric to rate papers as accept/revise/reject and provide associated comments. To assess the success of this mixed learning method, the overall ratings for the research papers from the first project will be compared to the second project, accounting for project complexity. The chief contribution of this work is the presentation of a method for providing laboratory instruction in a mid-year DSP course, demonstrating that this method may be adapted for other courses at similar institutions.





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