Electrical Circuits and Electronics

Purpose: to help other instructors teaching the same course

Common Course ID: Electrical Circuits and Electronics (ENG 250)
CSU Instructor Open Textbook Adoption Portrait

About the Course

ENG  250: Electrical Circuits and Electronics

Catalog Description: Theory and analysis of DC and AC circuits. Real and ideal sources, power transfer and power factor. Frequency response and transfer functions. Single transistor amplifier circuits, operational amplifiers. Computer-aided circuit analysis.

Prerequisite: PHY 205 Engineering Physics
Corequisite:     ENG 250L Electrical Circuits and Electronics Lab

Student population:  The course is for Mechanical Engineering (ME) students, and falls in the sophomore year for most students.  It is one of the first engineering analysis courses many of the students take after completing foundational math and physics prerequisites.

Course Goals and Student Learning Objectives
1. To demonstrate the application of mathematics and fundamental physical laws to the analysis of electrical circuits.
2.  To enhance students’ abilities in modeling and problem-solving engineering systems involving electric circuits.

Course Outcomes 
1. Students will learn about fundamental electrical principles, Ohm’s Law, resistance, capacitance and inductance in DC and AC circuits
2. Students will learn circuit analysis using Kirchhoff’s laws and Node and Mesh Analysis.
3. Students will learn circuit analysis using phasors for AC steady-state circuits
4. Students will be able to understand, model and analyze common electrical devices operating in both transient and steady-state conditions.
5. Students will be able to use/apply modern engineering tools/techniques to solve/model/analyze electrical circuits. 

Key challenges faced and how resolved: I had searched for OER texts for this class in the past, with no good results. When I received the notification for the current round of AL$ proposals, I looked again and was happy to find a few promising open source books.
Changing textbooks can be a time-consuming process, and I was nervous to do this at the same time I had to teach the lecture remotely due to the pandemic, but some of the extra work for changing the class format and changing the book were the same (lecture notes, homework assignment format for example), so while it was more work to adopt the open textbook than to stay with the same textbook, it was manageable and worthwhile.

About the Resource/Textbook 

Textbooks (Upper Division Engineering) 
Main text: Circuit Analysis & Design, Ulaby, Maharbiz and Furse,

Secondary text (in two parts): DC Circuit Analysis 3A DC Electrical Circuit Analysis - A Practical Approach (Flore)

AC Circuit Analysis AC Electrical Circuit Analysis, A Practical Approach (Flore)helves/Electrical_Engineering/Electronics/Book%3A_AC_Electrical_Circuit_Analysis%3A_A_Practical_Approach_(Fiore)

Student access:  The students access the materials through the campus LMS. The book is available from the authors’ website as a PDF download, and there is supplemental material (examples, video lectures, etc.) on the author’s site that our LMS for the course links to.

Cost Savings: The previous textbook has a list price of $240.  The new text is free.  This year I taught 38 students in two sections, so a predicted savings of $9120 is reasonable.  Note that in past years the enrollment has been larger, our numbers are down due to the pandemic this year.

OER/Low Cost Adoption

OER/Low Cost Adoption Process

Provide an explanation or what motivated you to use this textbook or OER/Low Cost option. 

My main motivation was to save students money by adopting an OER textbook instead of the very expensive textbook I have used in the past.  I have found that some students would not purchase their own textbook, relying on library reserve materials or finding their own online sources instead, and I thought that having a free textbook would address this problem.

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course? 

I worked with our AL$ coordinator and librarian Katherine Luce, and browsed several OER Circuits and Electronics texts to see how they matched the content from the text I have been using.  I emailed the open source textbook author and received a fast reply with access to lecture powerpoint slides and homework solutions, and this sealed the deal for me.

Curricular Changes and Student Access

I changed the textbook and the homework assignments for this course.  The course was also re-worked as a remote course (COVID) but in the future I will keep the text and teach the course face-to-face.

Teaching and Learning Impact

The results were good but not surprising.  The new textbook was very similar in content and organization to the old textbook, allowing me to keep the lecture topics, homework assignments, and exams very similar to when the course was taught with the old textbook.  Honestly there were more changes from pivoting to the online format than from adopting this free textbook.  I was pleased with the low level of revision needed!

Student Feedback or Participation

I surveyed the students regarding their experience with the book.  One surprising finding was that a large number of students (5/19) commented that they did not use the book even though it was free.  This was an open ended question, I suspect that if I had a targeted question the number might be higher.

The satisfaction level quantitative numbers are below:

Are you satisfied with this textbook?

Very Dissatisfied 0 0%
Dissatisfied 0 0%
Neutral 10 43.48%
Satisfied 12 52.17%
Very Satisfied 1 4.35%

Students did not in general see a reason to switch back to an expensive or hard-copy book (this book was online but also available in hardcopy for a low cost)

If you had to take this course over, would you have preferred a hard-copy textbook, even if it meant paying for it?

Strongly Disagree 7 30.43%
Disagree 7 30.43%
Neutral 6 26.09%
Agree 1 4.35%
Strongly Agree 2 8.7%

Sharing Best Practices: 

I think if there is a likely-looking OER text for a class, there is no reason not to adopt it.  The main impediment is simply the supply of OER texts in my field, and I am glad this has been changing over time for the better.

About the Instructor

Michael Holden

California State University Maritime Academy
Professor Holden has taught in the Mechanical Engineering department since 2007.  His teaching focuses on the electrical side of the degree, with courses such as Circuits, Instrumentation, and Mechatronics.  His research area is centered around autonomous vehicles, especially using autonomous boats for oceanographic research.