Integrating Hands-on Laboratory Learning Throughout the Curriculum

Students watching a demonstration in the electrical makerspace“Integrating Hands-on Laboratory Learning Throughout the Curriculum,” Professor Giri Venkataramanan, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professor Venkataramanan proposes to explore the impact on student learning of integrating hands-on laboratory experiences throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Currently, hands-on instructional laboratory experiences are not necessarily coordinated with the courses in which the fundamentals are taught. The proposed study would inform the college about the impact of integrating instructional laboratory materials more into courses as opposed to having stand-alone instructional laboratories.

To explore this idea, he will develop a new 1-credit course and update an existing one to modernize and expand opportunities for students to have hands-on lab experiences throughout the curriculum. More specifically, Professor Venkataramanan will apply what he learned from upgrading and developing ECE210 (referenced above with Professor Booske’s projects) to develop ECE379, a special topic course in ECE, that is a one-credit project-based lab course on power converters.

Longer term, Professor Venkataramanan is interested in exploring the benefits and limitations of offering these lab courses with a variety of timing and formats. Traditionally, 1-credit lab courses are offered one at a time as bi-weekly sessions throughout the semester (approximately 6 meetings in a 14-week semester). Another option to consider is to run them concurrently with one course meeting during even weeks and the other meeting during odd weeks. Yet a third consideration builds on previously successful “hack-a-thons” that are held at the Wendt Commons Makerspace where students dedicate a weekend to intensive hands-on learning (roughly 20 instructional hours from Friday-Sunday). Professor Venkataramanan will assess the effectiveness of the different approaches on student learning outcomes and use the findings to inform future changes in other courses.