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The development of a digital logic concept inventory

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Title: The development of a digital logic concept inventory
Author(s): Herman, Geoffrey L.
Director of Research: Loui, Michael C.; Zilles, Craig
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Loui, Michael C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Zilles, Craig; Brown, Donna J.; Jones, Douglas L.; Mestre, Jose
Department / Program: Electrical & Computer Eng
Discipline: Electrical & Computer Engr
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): digital logic concept inventory number representations Boolean algebra medium-scale integrated circuits state sequential circuits combinational circuits assessment misconceptions Delphi process
Abstract: Instructors in electrical and computer engineering and in computer science have developed innovative methods to teach digital logic circuits. These methods attempt to increase student learning, satisfaction, and retention. Although there are readily accessible and accepted means for measuring satisfaction and retention, there are no widely accepted means for assessing student learning. Rigorous assessment of learning is elusive because differences in topic coverage, curriculum and course goals, and exam content prevent direct comparison of two teaching methods when using tools such as final exam scores or course grades. Because of these difficulties, computing educators have issued a general call for the adoption of assessment tools to critically evaluate and compare the various teaching methods. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education researchers commonly measure students' conceptual learning to compare how much different pedagogies improve learning. Conceptual knowledge is often preferred because all engineering courses should teach a fundamental set of concepts even if they emphasize design or analysis to different degrees. Increasing conceptual learning is also important, because students who can organize facts and ideas within a consistent conceptual framework are able to learn new information quickly and can apply what they know in new situations. If instructors can accurately assess their students' conceptual knowledge, they can target instructional interventions to remedy common problems. To properly assess conceptual learning, several researchers have developed concept inventories (CIs) for core subjects in engineering sciences. CIs are multiple-choice assessment tools that evaluate how well a student's conceptual framework matches the accepted conceptual framework of a discipline or common faulty conceptual frameworks. We present how we created and evaluated the digital logic concept inventory (DLCI). We used a Delphi process to identify the important and difficult concepts to include on the DLCI. To discover and describe common student misconceptions, we interviewed students who had completed a digital logic course. Students vocalized their thoughts as they solved digital logic problems. We analyzed the interview data using a qualitative grounded theory approach. We have administered the DLCI at several institutions and have checked the validity, reliability, and bias of the DLCI with classical testing theory procedures. These procedures consisted of follow-up interviews with students, analysis of administration results with statistical procedures, and expert feedback. We discuss these results and present the DLCI's potential for providing a meaningful tool for comparing student learning at different institutions.
Issue Date: 2011-05-25
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/24134
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Geoffrey Lindsay Herman
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-25
Date Deposited: 2011-05
 

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