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Innovation in Teaching & Learning in Undergraduate Lab Experimentation in Engineering Education

The STAR Legacy Cycle (Model) and Its Implementation in EECE 235L Design

The EECE 235L Labs are designed to be challenge-based from an application point of view. The figure below shows the challenge-driven model that has been adopted in the electrical engineering lab course instruction and learning. Also, the significance and relevance of the STAR Legacy Cycle to the engineering practice are explained.

It is important that students read about the STAR Legacy Cycle and become familiar with the different components of the model and how different lab activities have been arranged around the Cycle.

The challenge-driven learning model aims to:

1. improve students' understanding of concepts and their applications in solving engineering challenges;

2. improve the laboratory learning environment and enhance student achievement and satisfaction; and

3. assist TA teaching, maximize lab efficiency and productivity.

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The STAR Legacy learning cycle is designed to help students organize and manage learning activities in the lab in a meaningful way. The model starts with a real engineering "challenge" problem. The challenge can be presented in either video, audio or text format.  This is basically what happens in the real world. The customer could come to the engineer and present the problem that needs solving.

Then the students reflect on the challenge and "Generate Ideas". Once they have articulated their thoughts, they can go on to learn from different experts in "Multiple Perspectives & Resources". Experts provide hints about things to think about when solving the challenge problem. However, these hints do not provide a specific solution to the problem. This allows the learners to compare their naive first impressions with the experts to help them notice their lack of differential knowledge. Now they are ready to proceed to "Research and Revise". This stage of the learning cycle organizes online tutorials and help facilities,  online tests, simulations (if any), and other resources into meaningful learning activities designed to help them focus on issues related to the initial challenge. Once they think they have learned enough, they can go to "Test Your Mettle". Here they engage in a set of activities that helps them explore the depth of their knowledge. In the lab, this is basically carrying out and testing the laboratory procedures. Once they have completed this, students can progress to the "Go Public" stage after proving to themselves that they understand the content well enough to express a solution to the challenge. This is the formal write up.

Instructions to students:
The arrows show the flow of activities that take place. There are Pre-lab assignments in the different areas of activities shown. These are requirements that you must complete before the lab class. The TA may ask to see your pre-lab work in class and anyone in the lab without their pre-lab work will not be prepared for the lab and will be excused from the lab.   
1. You will start the lab at The Challenge by reading a problem scenario presented. The Goals and Deliverables of the lab are presented there.

. You then proceed to "Generate Ideas". Here you will think about the problem and develop your own thoughts and think of ways to resolve it. You can discuss "your initial thoughts" on the challenge and how you think the problem could be solved. These thoughts must be written down and included in your formal lab report. After this, you are ready to go to the next activity.

3.The next stage is to read about views from experts and look at resources that are available for you in "Multiple Perspectives & Resources". There are online "resources" that will help you with background information that may be useful to solve the challenge. These include tutorials on theoretical concepts, pre-lab calculations and design, on-line tests, links to other resource sites, etc. These activities and resources are designed to prepare you to address the problem in the Challenge. All theoretical designs, calculations and graphs showing the important parameters must be shown and included in your formal lab report.

. "Test Your Mettle" is the actual experimental stage. This is where you carry out the practical lab experimentation. You will construct the test circuit (s) that you designed using the components and parameters you calculated in the "Research and Revise" stage. You may follow the procedures to make measurements, analyze, evaluate and interpret the results.

5.  "Publish Your Work" is the formal lab report write up stage. The Formal Technical Lap Report structure will be in the "Publish Your Work" stage of the cycle. You should follow the instructions and include all sections of that formal technical lab report. In the discussions and conclusions sections, be sure to compare your  theoretical solutions from "Research and Revise" work with the actual experimental results from "Test Your Mettle". Do try to explain differences and their causes. The formal technical lab report is due a week from the date of experimentation.

The Significance and Relevance of the STAR Legacy Cycle in Engineering Practice   

The STAR Legacy Cycle was developed to organize instruction and manage learning activities and resources in a classroom setting. However, what has not be obvious is that the Cycle is exactly the process used in engineering practice in project development in the real world. The figure below shows the relationship between the STAR Legacy Cycle and the engineering process in project development.

Students are required to study this relationship so they have a fair idea of the engineering process that has been brought into the classroom and Lab learning environment using the STAR Legacy Cycle. 

After you have read and studied the STAR Legacy Cycle and its appropriateness to the engineering practice, return to the previous page.

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