Efficacy of lab reports for electric circuits laboratory assessment

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Electrical Engineering


The purpose of this study was to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of the student submitted post-lab report in assessing the knowledge and skills obtained during a fundamental electrical engineering laboratory course. The traditional team based approach to laboratory structure with two or more members per lab team was found to be less effective for teaching basic laboratory skills and acquiring knowledge as compared to a lab structure that allowed students to perform laboratory exercises individually throughout the semester. The submitted laboratory report was insensitive and therefore insufficient for measuring the differences in students' laboratory abilities and knowledge. In order to evaluate students' laboratory knowledge and abilities, a new assessment instrument was developed. This new assessment method consisted of a final laboratory practicum exam which provided a verifiably objective metric displaying sufficient specificity to differentiate between the traditional team based and solo participation lab groups. Students who performed their laboratory exercises individually during the semester were noticeably superior in their ability to apply rudimentary laboratory skills and knowledge in the performance of basic circuits analysis applications as reflected in their final lab practicum scores. The study was performed over five consecutive semesters with 160 students sub-divided into control (traditional lab teams) and solo groups. Students in the control group performed the weekly laboratory exercises in lab teams of two or more while those in the solo group worked independently. The solo group exhibited statistically significant higher scores on the final lab practicum as compared to the control group; whereas, the lab report, a traditional metric for evaluating student lab performance, lacked sufficient sensitivity to discriminate between these group differences. The results of this study indicated that students must be fully engaged in all laboratory exercises to thoroughly and properly learn and retain the skills and knowledge required to perform fundamental circuit analysis. An adequate and verifiable assessment instrument was essential to corroborate the achievement of the laboratory course objectives to the knowledge and skills obtained by the lab students. It should be noted that the results from this study apply to a fundamental laboratory setting and may not be applicable to upper level laboratories. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.



Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

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