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How Analogies Fit in a Framework for Supporting the Entrepreneurial Mindset in an Electric Circuits Course
Updated: 6/30/2020 4:25 PM by Michael Johnson
This card (and associated paper) supports the integration of curiosity, creating connections, and creating value (the 3Cs) of the entrepreneurial mindset in an electric circuits course with a lab component. We describe how a few key modifications that are reinforced continuously throughout the course can transform the course to support the 3Cs. Each of the 3Cs is targeted by a specific approach. Look at the Course Structure section for copies of the syllabus and course schedule to see how the entrepreneurially minded learning (EML) activities fit in the scope of the course.

Curiosity is targeted through the formulation of exploratory questions and deeper exploration of those questions. For each lecture topic, a question has been generated by the instructor designed to stimulate student thought and to show students examples of good questions designed for deeper exploration of the topics. The first couple of minutes of class is spent discussing how the question is graded across five dimensions: grammar, clarity, relevance, topic orientation and potential for depth of exploration. Students submit their own sets of exploratory questions three times throughout the course. A single point formative assessment rubric has been created to provide students feedback on their questions. A brief research paper is assigned that requires students to formulate an exploratory question, identify at least one credible and relevant source to use to explore the topic of the question, identify new questions that arise during the research process, and report their findings. It is important for students to demonstrate they are aware of what they do not know by formulating follow-up questions during the research. Doing so demonstrates an ability for students to engage in effective self-study, which supports life-long learning. Students complete the short report with an assessment of their sources found during the research process. Look at the Curiosity-Related Activities section below for copies of the exploratory question rubric and brief research paper assignment. The conference presentation provided in the 2019 ASEE Conference Paper Link and Presentation section provides examples of questions scored on the rubric that are shared with students.

Connections is targeted by circuit analogies related to more familiar topics. Connecting new topics to established student knowledge is a well-researched pedagogical approach firmly grounded in the science of learning. A dozen novel circuit analogies are provided in the paper (and even more are in the presentation) that are used in the course. An analogy reflection assignment is given that allows students to select either one of the analogies given throughout the course or to create their own analogy that connects the circuit content to a life experience or other topic. In either case, students are required to describe the underlying deep structure that is shared between the source and target of the analogy. It has been shown that students who partake in the exercise of identifying deep structure between analogs are more capable of transferring knowledge to novel situations. Look at the 2019 ASEE Conference Paper Link and Presentation section below for the presentation that provides the images used with the analogies that are presented to students. Also, look at the Connections-Related Activities sections for a copy of the analogy reflection assignment.

Creating value is targeted through a circuit design-build-test project that requires a value proposition. Students are organized into interdisciplinary groups to design and build a temperature sensing circuit that utilizes a thermistor and meets certain design constraints but is open-ended in terms of the application, or need. Students are required to identify an important need or application for their temperature sensing circuit. They must justify the need through relevant market data and submit the idea for the need in a problem framing deliverable. Students also submit an individual design solution along with the problem framing document for formative feedback. The final proposal for the project has a value proposition section in which students summarize the value created by their design. Two suppliers must be identified and a cost comparison must be submitted in the final proposal. For more details on the design-build-test project, look at the Creating Value-Related Activities section for a copy of the project handout and rubric used for grading the final reports.
Learning Objectives
1)      Develop a propensity to ask more questions.
2)      Formulate salient questions related to electric circuit analysis and design.
3)      Recognize and explore circuit knowledge gaps.
4)      Identify and evaluate sources of information.

1)      Connect life experiences with electric circuit content.

Creating Value:
1)      Explore multiple solution paths in the circuit design process.
2)      Identify a market, market opportunities, or customer needs.
3)      Modify a design based on instructor feedback.
4)      Gather experimental and simulation data to support or refute circuit design ideas.
5)      Craft a compelling value proposition tailored to specific stakeholders.
Instructor Tips

+ Students really appreciate the analogies used in the course. There were many positive remarks on course evaluations. Use the associated images in the slides when explaining the analogies to the students, available in the presentation under the 2019 ASEE Conference Paper Link & Presentation section.

+ Use the first 2-5 minutes of class to introduce a question focusing on the topic of the day and score it on the rubric. This helps them to better understand the dimensions of a good question. Show good and bad examples as illustrated in the presentation  (slides 7 and 8) under the 2019 ASEE Conference Paper Link & Presentation section.

+ Students improved in their ability to ask good questions (according to the rubric) by a full letter grade over the 3 question submission assignments. See the syllabus (Question Submissions on page 2) for a description of the assignments, available under the Course Structure section.

+ To avoid freeloading, require each student to submit a unique design solution as part of the design-build-test project and grade them individually.

+ Encourage students to meet with research librarians to help in their market research to justify the importance of the identified need.

+ Students learn a lot from developing test plans and procedures and following through with implementation of the circuit prototype.

+ Set aside a lab session for students to implement the test plans and procedures on their prototype (see the course schedule under the Course Structure section)

𝜟 Include homework assignments involving value proposition exercises specific to electric circuit topics (e.g., develop a value proposition for the implementation of circuit breakers over plug fuses for residential wiring).

  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight
Creating Value
  • Identify unexpected opportunities to create extraordinary value
  • Persist through and learn from failure
  • Perform Technical Design
  • Create Model or Prototype
  • Analyze Solutions
  • Identify Opportunity
  • Communicate Solution in Economic Terms
  • Identify Supply Chains & Distribution Methods
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Engineering Science/Physics
Below is a link to the 2019 ASEE paper presented in the Curricular Advancements in ECE Session (U415) on Sunday, June 16, 2019 from 1:15pm - 2:45pm.

LeBlanc, H. J., & Al-Olimat, K. S., & Khan, M. A., & Hassan, F. (2019, June), "How Analogies Fit in a Framework for Supporting the Entrepreneurial Mind-set in an Electric Circuits Course", Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida.

Also included is the presentation augmented with notes explaining the analogies and other content within the slides.
Title Type Ext Date Size
2019 ASEE Paper Link Journal / Article 7/9/2019 -
2019 ASEE Paper Presentation Presentation .pptx 7/9/2019 8.1 MB
The syllabus and course schedule is provided to provide the context for all of the EML activities within the electric circuits course. All due dates for EML assignments are provided in the course schedule (shown in red, due on lab days).
Title Type Ext Date Size
Syllabus Syllabus .doc 7/9/2019 149.5 KB
Course Schedule Instructor Notes .pdf 7/9/2019 386 KB
The rubric used to grade the question submission assignments is given below along with the assignment handout for the brief research paper in which students explore one of their questions.

Also included are examples of student work for the question submission assignments and short technical report in which each student explores one of their questions.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Exploratory Question Single Point Rubric Assessment / Rubric .docx 7/9/2019 22.4 KB
Question Exploration Research Paper Activity / Handout .docx 7/9/2019 20.5 KB
Questions Set 1, Sample Student Work Student Artifact / Example .pdf 7/15/2019 133.1 KB
Questions Set 2, Sample Student Work Student Artifact / Example .pdf 7/15/2019 188.1 KB
Questions Set 3, Sample Student Work Student Artifact / Example .pdf 7/15/2019 200.9 KB
Question Exploration, Sample Student Wor Student Artifact / Example .pdf 7/15/2019 1.5 MB
The analogy reflection assignment is given below. The grading outline is provided within the handout. Some examples of student work are also provided.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Analogy Reflection Assignment Activity / Handout .docx 7/9/2019 18.7 KB
Analogy Reflections, Sample Student Work Student Artifact / Example .pdf 7/18/2019 853.5 KB
The design-build-test project assignment handout is given below, along with the spec sheet for the NTC thermistor used in the prototypes and the rubric used to grade the final proposals.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Circuit EML Design Project Assignment Activity / Handout .docx 7/9/2019 24.5 KB
EML Design Project Proposal Rubric Assessment / Rubric .docx 7/9/2019 21.4 KB
NTC Thermistor Specifications Sheet Activity / Handout .pdf 7/9/2019 53.3 KB