Improvements in Undergraduate Electromagnetism Courses by Designing Experiences of Inquiry and Reflection

Thumbnail Image
Prabhu Gaunkar, Neelam
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
American Society for Engineering Education
Mina, Mani
Teaching Professor
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Industrial Design
The Department of Industrial Design seeks to teach students to tap creativity for the design of products, systems or services that meet commercial objectives in business and industry. The Industrial Design Program was established in the Department of Art and Design in 2010. In 2012, the Department of Industrial Design was created.
Organizational Unit
Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) contains two focuses. The focus on Electrical Engineering teaches students in the fields of control systems, electromagnetics and non-destructive evaluation, microelectronics, electric power & energy systems, and the like. The Computer Engineering focus teaches in the fields of software systems, embedded systems, networking, information security, computer architecture, etc.

The Department of Electrical Engineering was formed in 1909 from the division of the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering. In 1985 its name changed to Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. In 1995 it became the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dates of Existence

Historical Names

  • Department of Electrical Engineering (1909-1985)
  • Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (1985-1995)

Related Units

Journal Issue
Is Version Of
Undergraduate level electromagnetism courses are typically introduced in the junior year or once students have received formal training in vector calculus. However, a major part of the course involves physics-based concepts that relate to our everyday interactions with electronic devices. These concepts can be easily understood without high emphasis on mathematical formulation. However, it has been observed that many students treat the course as a purely mathematical exercise and fail to see connections between physical concepts and mathematical equations. To address the connectivity gap between the physics-based concepts and mathematical formulation, reflection-based activities [1,2] were introduced in two electromagnetism courses. It is expected that reflective activities will encourage students to think about their learning and develop deeper connections between the physical concepts and the medium of communication. In one course mathematical formulations were emphasize along with the concepts while the other course emphasized the concepts without the rigor of vector calculus. Comparable reflective activities were provided in both the classes at different intervals during the semester. Student reflections were then analyzed using a phenomenological approach [3,4], categorizing student’s learning over the course of the semester. Through this study several questions will be addressed. “Are reflective practices effective in bridging the gap between physics concepts and abstract mathematical formulation?” and “Can improved connectivity lead to improvements in the student’s learning and perception of electromagnetism?” and “What should we emphasise, concepts or formulation or both?” [1]. Adams, Robin S., Jennifer Turns, and Cynthia J. Atman. "Educating effective engineering designers: The role of reflective practice." Design studies 24, no. 3 (2003): 275-294. [2]. Mina, Mani, Iraj Omidvar, and Kathleen Knott. "Learning to think critically to solve engineering problems: Revisiting John Dewey’s ideas for evaluating engineering education." Retrieved January 5 (2003): 2004. [3]. Entwistle, Noel. "Introduction: Phenomenography in higher education." Higher Education Research & Development 16, no. 2 (1997): 127-134. [4]. Walsh, Eleanor. "Phenomenographic analysis of interview transcripts." Phenomenography (2000): 19-33.
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: Prabhu Gaunkar, N., & Mina, M. (2018, June), Improvements in Undergraduate Electromagnetism Courses by Designing Experiences of Inquiry and Reflection Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30628. Copyright 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Posted with permission."