Start from scratch or adapt?

Discussion in 'Homework Help' started by hp1729, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. hp1729

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
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    Am I that out of touch? Young engineers seldom start from scratch on a project. Data sheets have examples of applications. You find one close to what you need and adapt it. Yes, I can se seasoned engineers taking the option of starting from scratch. Students are not seasoned engineers and won't be for a few years. Trying to convince them they have to start from nothing doesn't help them learn. Examples that "almost work" might help them more. Give them ideas to start with.
     
  2. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    This is a question that involves a lot of missing context. The goal of many assignments is to apply fundamental knowledge and skills to problems that are, ideally, specifically crafted so that they are reasonably solvable by someone at that stage of their education using just the knowledge and skills that they have previously (supposedly) become proficient with in combination with the knowledge and skills they are presently learning. A big part of that process is seeing examples worked in detail in the text and/or in class. The assignment is often asking them to capture the nature of those examples and apply it to a somewhat different problem than they have seen so that they can learn to synthesize solutions from previous knowledge. This is quite different than what happens when someone is given an example that "almost works" and then just has to tweak it. While that has value, it seldom allows the student to internalize the fundamental concepts they are supposed to be learning.
     
  3. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

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    Working on the component level in R.F. design is crucial. You can get by with "building blocks" when designing digital and mixed signal modes. But R.F. design requires that you actually know the fundamental physics to a large degree. Not many people go into R.F. design, because it's HARD. But, there's unbelievable job security for those who do it. I've been trying to retire for a couple of decades, but society won't let me. :)
     
  4. hp1729

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
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    Maybe it has been too long since I have been a student. I see your point. "Examples" and ideas just seem like a better idea than expecting them to reinventing the wheel. Why make it any harder than the actual job?
     
  5. WBahn

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    Another point to keep in mind (and, again, a lot of this is very context-dependent so any discussion of generalities have to be taken with a grain of salt) is that often times a student that comes here struggling with a problem has seen similar (often VERY similar) problems worked out in the text and worked out in class. If they didn't "get it" by seeing those examples worked for them, they are unlikely to suddenly "get it" when someone else does a significant portion of their work for them in order to give them something that "almost works" as a starting point. They are probably at the point where they need to struggle and fight with the concepts and overcome them with only hints and nudges from others. That way they can have an, "ah-hah!" moment that is unique to their way of thinking.
     
  6. WBahn

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    What you are describing is basically the mindset that has left us with a few generations of students that have almost zero math literacy and weak reasoning and analytical thinking skills. After all, why make students learn how to do arithmetic when they will always have calculators and computers handy? But that just results in people that rely on the calculators to do their thinking for them. Worse, it cripples their ability to apply mathematical concepts to problems for the simple reason that they don't have any grasp on the mathematical concepts to draw upon.

    I could give you probably a couple dozen examples from this semester alone. For just one, resulting from the problem of converting a character string into the integer that it represents. The process was presented in class, both the mathematical basis and specific examples. But many students were unable to successfully write the program. One student in particular was completely lost. When they came in for help they couldn't grasp the notion that you could convert the ASCII values for each digit to the corresponding digit value by subtracting the value of the ASCII code for '0'. In trying to lead the student to see this, I kept making the problem more and more concrete. Finally I was down to, "We have the character '5', which has an ASCII code of 53. What number do we need to subtract from 53 to get 5?" They simply could not come up with an answer to that question (and finally guessed '3' because that would "cancel out" the 3 in 53 leaving the 5).
     
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  7. hp1729

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
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    Perhaps/ You make a good point.
     
  8. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    @hp1729

    Don't forget that some students will post across the various forums the same problem. If another forum answers the question, they won't return here, as the internet becomes "homework done for you." This place was like that a number of years ago, where the answers were given.

    I once viewed the idea of "bad circuits", as seen in the Art of Electronics, as a novel way to get points across. I don't know of either authors use those examples and explain their faults, for them to be of use. The authors might expect the student to use their previous learned knowledge to explain the faults to themselves.

    We know the internet is replete with circuits, some good, some not so good.
     
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  9. KL7AJ

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    NEETS is an amazing, wonderful program. It uses the Chesty Puller teaching method: "First you tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, then you tell 'em, then you tell 'em what you told 'em." If you go through NEETS, you WILL know some electronics.
     
  10. hp1729

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
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