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J-DSP Assessment



J-DSP Assessment Results

This HTML page summarizes a series of assessment results provided by the EEE407 students and various anonymous users. First, an overview of the methods and the assessment tools developed for the evaluation is presented. General and concept-specific forms have been developed. The general forms are used to obtain an overall subjective opinion on the J-DSP software. The concept-specific forms provide the laboratory evaluation and its impact on learning specific DSP concepts. Our newest assessment instrument, the pre/post-lab assessment, focuses on evaluating whether learning of certain topics is attributed specifically to using J-DSP.

  • General Assessment

The general assessment questionnaire consists of a specific set of items that assess the ergonomics and the usefulness of the J-DSP software. In this assessment, students provide information on logistics, software capabilities, academic standing, browser compatibilities, expediency of the user-manual, etc. Student responses revealed that the GUI and the free access to J-DSP were received positively. Most students found J-DSP simulations highly intuitive. In fact, 95% of the students liked the concept of Internet-based simulations, and 70% of the students responded that it took them less than 30 minutes to learn how to use J-DSP. Moreover, 85.5% of the students agreed that they would consider using J-DSP to construct their own educational simulations.

Figure 1 User feedback regarding J-DSP editor used in DSP Lab

  • Concept-specific Assessment

The concept-specific assessment questions are directly related to the technical aspects of the J-DSP on-line laboratories. The concept-specific forms focus on each exercise by posing questions that determine whether the student has learned a specific DSP concept. For instance, 87% of the students agreed that the filter design exercise helped them understand which window is suitable for sharp transitions, 88% of the students understood better the signal symmetries in the FFT spectra because of J-DSP visualization, and 91% of the students reported that the Z-transform exercise helped them understand the relation between the pole-zero locations and the frequency response plots. More results are given in Table 1.

Table 1: Statistics based on the concept-specific assessment

Evaluation Questions


Agree (%)

Agree (%)

Neutral (%)

Disagree (%)

Strongly Disagree (%)

1.       J-DSP on-line labs help you better understand the concepts of the Z transform






2.       Your understanding of the concepts of FIR and IIR filter design is enhanced by the J-DSP labs






3.       The general concepts of using FFT in signal analysis is clear by performing a J-DSP simulation






4.       You have learned how to generate a sinusoid with a digital filter






5.       The relationship between the impulse response and the transfer function is clear




6.       After performing the J-DSP lab it is clear that the FFT spectral resolution is limited by the FFT size, the window type, and the window size




7.       Enough information is available on the help screens and the dialog windows.




8.       J-DSP labs accelerate the learning curve attributed to the basic DSP concepts (Labs 1-4 average statistics)





  • Pre/Post-lab Assessment

In the evaluation Question-8 shown in Table 1, we directly asked the students if the J-DSP and the on-line laboratories accelerated the learning process. 92% of the students responded positively. However, in order to obtain even more reliable statistical results for this scenario, we developed the pre/post-lab assessment questionnaire during the spring’03 semester. In the pre/post-lab evaluation, the questions are technical and are set to evaluate the student’s understanding of the key DSP concepts before and after performing a particular J-DSP lab assignment. The pre/post quiz and the lab are assigned after the relevant theory has been introduced in class. This ensures that all the students have had some, or ideally the same exposure to the topics covered in the lab, so that we can isolate specifically the effect of the J-DSP labs in their learning. The students are asked to complete the pre-lab assessment before working on a J-DSP lab. After performing the J-DSP lab assignments, they submit the post-lab assessment. The questions on the post-lab assessments are the same as the pre-lab assessments but given in a different order.

Figure 2 shows the pre/post-lab assessment results. Lab 1 is related to the Z-transform and the frequency response and consists of six questions. A 20% average improvement can be noted after performing the J-DSP lab-1. The percentage improvement corresponding to lab-2 was significant, i.e., 45%. This can be related to the fact that the lab-2 simulations involve seamless animations of pole-zero locations and frequency response computations. This assessment result was influential in re-designing most of the J-DSP blocks to incorporate animations. Labs 3, 4, and 5 involve the FIR/IIR filter design methods, the FFT computation, and the QMF filter bank analysis, respectively. Improvements of 22%, 10%, and 15% can be noted in the labs 3, 4, and 5, respectively. A detailed analysis of the pre/post-lab assessment results is given in [1].

Figure 2Pre/post-lab assessment of J-DSP labs [1]

[1]. A. Spanias, K. Ahmed, A. Papandreou-Suppappola, and M. Zaman, “Assessment of the Java-DSP (J-DSP) On-Line Laboratory Software,” in 33rd ASEE/IEEE FIE-03, Boulder, Nov. 2003



J-DSP Editor Design & Development by:
Multidisciplinary Initiative on Distance Learning Technologies
J-DSP and On-line Laboratory Concepts by Prof. Andreas Spanias. For further information contact spanias@asu.edu
Department of Electrical Engineering - Multidisciplinary Initiative on Distance Learning - ASU

Page maintained by A. Spanias. Project Sponsored by NSF and ASU
All material Copyright (c) 1997-2012 Arizona Board of Regents.