Student preconceptions play an important role in education. In the constructivist theory, the students’ cognitive process is understood as building new knowledge using existing ideas as a starting point. Students’ preconceptions and intuitions are often false, naïve or incomplete. When aware of this fact, instructors can find these misconceptions early in a course, and devise an educational methodology to address them19,2. We aim to identify student preconceptions related to networking and telecommunications engineering technology with the objective of increasing the effectiveness of our teaching methodologies. We hypothesize that to effectively address misconceptions, student culture must be taken into account. Finally, by analyzing student responses to misconception testing, we have taken the first steps in developing a concept inventory for telecommunications and networking. This work augments a previous study on STEM undergraduate students’ preconceptions regarding Quality of Service (QoS) in telecommunications13, by giving the same survey to a larger number of students across different programs and countries and investigating the effects of culture and experience on preconceptions related specifically to QoS. In this study, the survey was given to two new groups of students and the pre- and post-instruction responses were the analyzed. The first group was primarily from India and were studying towards a graduate degree in telecommunications; the second group was primarily from the USA and were taking a networking class as part of their undergraduate degree. The students were asked to respond either “yes” or “no” to multiple questions and then explain the reasoning behind their response. The data from each group was analyzed, the undergraduate data was then compared with data from the previous study, and the undergraduate and graduate data were compared to each other with respect to culture and experience 20. In addition, a new survey was given to another set of graduate students to study preconceptions related to concepts in telecommunications that were not related to QoS. We used our overall results and analyzed the wording, key phrases and key words in their explanations, to create an initial concept inventory specific to telecommunications. This concept inventory will allow instructors to prepare their instructional material and tune their didactic approaches to meet specific student need - some of which may be related to culture and experience.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



©2017 American Society for Engineering Education

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Department, Program, or Center

Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (CET)


RIT – Main Campus