Active Learning Exercises in Computer Organization and Architecture

Jeffrey Jalkio, Dan Schupp
2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
Jeff Jalkio received his Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and worked for thirteen years in industry in the fields of optical sensor design and process control. In 1984, he cofounded CyberOptics Corporation, where he led engineering efforts as Vice President of Research. In 1997 he returned to academia, joining the engineering faculty of the University of St. Thomas where he teaches courses in digital electronics, computing, electromagnetic fields, controls, and
more » ... ign. Dan R Schupp Dan Schupp is finishing his bachelors in Electrical Engineering and Physics at the University of St. Thomas. He has worked with students as a TA for nearly two years, covering topics ranging from introductory engineering courses to design with microprocessors. He is currently employed at Xollai LLC, a robotic vision company. Abstract Current computer science and computer engineering students have grown up using computers on a regular basis. However, they often enter college with no knowledge of how a computer functions and frequently with substantial misconceptions regarding their functioning. The earlier these misconceptions can be replaced by a more accurate model of the computer's operation, the more readily the student will be able to integrate computer science concepts into their working knowledge of the world. Research in education has long shown that active learning techniques are particularly effective in helping students to overcome pre-existing misconceptions. In this paper we present an activity for exploring basic concepts of computer architecture and organization. In this activity, students play the role of various computer components such as program counter, instruction register, and act out the process of fetching, decoding, and executing instructions. Through this game-like activity, students are also introduced to the idea of constructing algorithms from simple instructions. Because this activity does not assume prior knowledge of computing or electrical engineering it can be used with a wide variety of audiences. It has been used successfully with engineering, education and liberal arts majors, as well as high school students who have expressed an interest in computer engineering.
doi:10.18260/1-2--17417 fatcat:3rqk2ssgczh3hkth2ktltt36fm