Improving engineering students’ skills using a digital storage oscilloscope using multimedia resources

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australasian Association for Engineering Education


School of Engineering




Originally published as: Oswald, D.P., Baccini, D.J., Hinckley, S., Wild, G. (2012). Improving engineering students’ skills using a digital storage oscilloscope using multimedia resources. In the Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education. (pp. 959 - 967). Melbourne, Australia. Original paper available here


Background: Currently, students at Edith Cowan University (ECU) studying engineering utilise a laboratory worksheet with written instructions to follow in all experiments. This can be restrictive as most laboratory sessions are limited by time and the written instructions can be misinterpreted by some students. To overcome this issue, a multimedia presentation was developed to reduce the workload of students during the pre-laboratory phase and the burden on the laboratory demonstrators during laboratory session. Our verbal feedback, from laboratory demonstrators, is that students have traditionally struggled with the basic usage of the Digital Storage Oscilloscope (DSO). A video tutorial has been created with the primary purpose for utilisation in first year engineering courses at ECU where students have the most difficulty, and reusability in later years when students need to review their knowledge and skills. Purpose: The main reason for developing this project is to assist first year undergraduate engineering students in understanding the operation of electronic instrumentation that they will encounter in their laboratory activities. The conventional method of reading instructions from a manual can be time consuming and restrictive. With the multimedia presentation, the time constraints are reduced, allowing the student freedom and flexibility, thus removing unnecessary pressure which can manifest by not being prepared, or even confused. Design/Method: Over 75 students participated in this pilot study and were divided into two separate groups. The first group performed the experiment through the traditional method of the laboratory worksheet explaining how to complete the exercise. The second group was given the laboratory worksheet as well as developed multimedia explanation showing how to complete the same exercise. Both groups were given a questionnaire to complete pre- and post-laboratory. The questionnaire asks the student's questions based on the basic to setup the experiment. The data was analysed with an independent sample t-test to determine if there is a significant difference between the two groups at α=0.05. Results: These results indicate that there is a greater variation in the scores in the no video pre-lab, and the highest score was achieved in the video pre-lab. Also, there is a significant difference between the two groups. More importantly, the results show that the video group all "pass" with a minimum score of 50%, while the majority of students failed in the no video group. Conclusions: At a 95% significance level we are able demonstrate that there is a significant difference between the two pre-laboratory groups with the students who had accessed to the video tutorial performed significant higher, helped students complete the pre-laboratory exercise to a significantly higher standard. These results may indicate that the multimedia provides clear and concise instructions, which improves the student's understanding of the activities, as well as assisting the laboratory demonstrators.