Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2014, 2, 27-31
Published Online May 2014 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/jss
How to cite this paper: Fang, C.H. and Wu, Z.D. (2014) Experiment Teaching Innovation of the Course Computer Hardware
Fundamentals. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 27-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jss.2014.25007
Experiment Teaching Innovation of the
Course Computer Hardware Fundamentals
Chunhua Fang, Zhendi Wu
Department of Electrical Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
Email: chunhua _fang @163.com
Received January 2014
The course Computer Hardware Fundamentals to non-electrical engineering students aims to
teach the basic principles and applications of microcomputers so that the students could use
computers to solve practical problems in professional or related fields. The teachers have to face
the fact that the current experiment teaching cannot meet the demand of students because of less
class hour. Based on the analysis of a questionnaire which focuses on the students’ expectation of
the experiments as well as the problems existing in the current experiments, a new general elec-
tive experimental course “Computer hardware Technology Fundamental Application Experiments”
is put forward, and some innovative experiment teaching content and methods are introduced in
Experiment, Computer, Hardware Fundamentals, Innovati on
Implementing the guiding ideology of the National Ministry of Education that basic computer education in col-
leges and universities is divided into three levels, the course Computer hardware fundamentals is one of the
second level courses offered in Tongji University, which aims to teach the basic principles and applications of
microcomputers so that the students could use computers to solve practical problems in professional or related
2. History of Curriculum Reform
Computer Hardware Fundamentals was formerly known as the subject Microcomputer Principle and Interface
Technology to non-computer engineering students. The subject was divided into two courses in 1998, one is still
Microcomputer Principle and Interface Technology to electrical engineering, the other is Computer Hardware
Fundamentals to non-electrical engineering.
The teaching content of Computer Hardware Fundamentals had been modified in 2000. The traditional con-
tent of microcomputer principles, interfaces and applications apparently are not easy to understand by non-elec-
trical students though they are appropriate for electrical engineering students.
C. H. Fang, Z. D. Wu
In 2002, considering the students coming from different specialties and different grades, with different learn-
ing backgrounds, in order to adapt to the changes in teaching, the teaching staff had put forward a proposal to
highlight the basic concepts and applications, as well as the current mainstream technology. And from then on,
Computer Hardware Fundamentals has been positioned a basic public course to non-electrical specialties.
3. Current Experiment Teaching Status and Problems
Students of Computer Hardware Fundamentals covers varieties of specialties of arts, science, and engineering
(post-2012 mainly in art, science majors based), however, the nature of basic computer courses make the course
cannot take care of professional requirements. Less experiment hours are assigned to because of less course
hours (32 class hours). The experiments are simple interface operations on a computer hardware experimental
box, mainly about audio application and LED display by calling some given assembly programs. However the
students of freshmen or sophomores can’t understand the hardware experimental box which only shows some
interface/hole to the users, and they don’t know assembly language, so it’s undoubtedly that the students are not
interested in the experiments. Thus the experimental program is unable to achieve the aim of the teaching sylla-
4. Analysis of Current Experiment Teaching Status Questionnaire
To carry out the experiment teaching reform, in view of the existing experiment content, an anonymous ques-
tionnaire was conducted to learn students’ view of the current experiment content and their desired computer
hardware technology foundation experiments.
4.1. Investigation Questionnaire and Statistics of the Results
The questionnaires were collected from 79, statistical results are as follows (Table 1).
4.2. Analysis of the Questionnaire Result
The questions of the questionnaire are settled mainly from the students’ expectation of the experiments as well
as the problems existing in the current experiments.
The answers of question NO.4 and NO.5 show the main confusion of students when they have experiments of
Computer Hardware Fundamentals, that is lack a certain knowledge of assembly language, and 76% of the stu-
dents feel it is the difficult part of the experiment that they don't understand the executive function programmed
in assembly language. Because the students only need to call a given program to drive the speaker or display, etc.
Most of them may finish the experiment quickly but still don’t know exactly which statements implement these
functions, how to modify the program to achieve some other functions. That is to say, they are still obscure to
the experiment. So explain some necessary assembly statements, procedure and principle of the program will be
of great help.
In question (2), almost 90% of the students in favor of using “program application + part of programming”
mode of experiment, shows that most students want to know the basic assembly language, and like to try pro-
gramming. There are also some related suggestions in the last open questions: “Knowledge of assembly lan-
guage is not enough, can’t understand the given program well.”; “Introduce the assembly language first, other-
wise cannot read the program.” Thus, part of the assembly language knowledge is needed to be taught in the
experiment teaching; There had better have detailed annotations of the main function modules or key statements
in the program; at the same time, some statements filling up can also be des ig ned to let the students understand
the program step by step.
In question (1), more than half of the students choose to do applied experiments. In question (6), 61% of the
students valued ability of operation, which was also reflected in the last open questions: “increase practical ex-
periments”, “to the practical direction.” these illustrate that the basic experiment of computer hardware technol-
ogy should focus on “application”, which is current experiments lack.
In question (7), more than half of the students are interested in “computer disassembling and assembling ex-
periment”, “hard disk data recovery” and “computer fault diagnosis” respectively. This suggests that the stu-
dents hope to understand the computer hardware through “anatomical type of learning”, and learn computer
fault diagnosis through the experiment. Summarize the whole questionnaire, the design of Computer Hardware
C. H. Fang, Z. D. Wu
Table 1. Statistics of the questionnaire results.
1) Which of the following types of experiment do you hope to do? Number of people percentage
verification type 19 24%
design type 20 25%
applied type 40 51%
2) Which of the following experimental mode of Computer Hardware Fundamentals
would you like to take?
program application + part of programming 71 90%
programming 6 8%
others_____________ 2 2%
3) Do you think it is necessary to reform the experiment of Computer Hardware Fundamentals?
Yes 56 71%
No 23 29%
4) What’s the main difficulty when you having the experiments of
Computer Hardware Fundamentals？
insufficient knowledge of assembly language 60 76%
lack of preparation 13 16%
the experiments are too complicated 1 1%
failed to interest 5 7%
5) Which of the following conditions do you think is needed to do experiments of
Computer Hardware Fundamentals well?
know some assembly language 36 46%
preliminary understanding the process and principle of experiment 32 41%
set questions and part design the experiment 11 13%
6) Which of the following do you think is more important view of the experiments
of Computer Hardware Fundamentals？
improve operating ability 48 61%
logic thinking skill 29 37%
other aspects ability (can be added) _________ 2 2%
7) Which of the following development experiments are you interested in? (multi-choices)
computer disassembling and assembling 43 54%
network cable making and connectivity test 23 29%
hard disk data recovery 42 53%
USB disk senior operation 33 42%
computer fault diagnosis 40 51%
keyboard and mouse disassembling and assembling 14 18%
8) Could you give some advice of “computer hardware fundamentals experiment reform direction”, or point out the deficiency.
Teaching the experiments with multimedia PPT.
Increase practical experiments.
Improve the hardware facilities, such as the mouse is very difficult to use.
Knowledge of assembly language is not enough, can’t understand the given program well.
To the practical direction
Introduce the assembly language first, otherwise cannot read the program.
Fundamentals experiments needs to accord with the application requirement of the students, to enhance the ap-
plicability of experiments, is not only stay on the experiments done on the experiment box.
5. Exploring Innovative Experiment Teaching
According to the position of the course, “Computer Hardware Fundamentals” is a practical technology founda-
C. H. Fang, Z. D. Wu
tion course. As a result of less class hour, in order to make the students really understand the computer hardware
infrastructure, to achieve the teaching goal through the experiments of “have strong practical ability and scien-
tific research and development ability”, we decide to open a new general elective experimental course “Com-
puter hardware technology fundamental application experiments” w ith ou t affecting the original teaching pro-
5.1. Experiment Teaching Content Reform
The course “Computer hardware technology fundamental application experiments” is based on PC hardware
platform, and all the experiments are designed on the basis of research, which is a series of applied experiments
that the students are interested in. Through anatomical type of experiment teaching to computer hardware, to
consolidate and deepen the understanding of the theoretical study of computer hardware, to improve hands-on
practice and innovative ability, and to lay a certain foundation for learning the follow-up professional courses
and the future work in engineering technology. The course preset 16 experiments, which cover the computer as-
sembly and debugging, common computer fault diagnosis, computer hardware test, optimization of computer
system and safety protection, U disk senior operations, network fault diagnosis and maintenance, integrated ap-
plication experiments of computer, etc. These experiments are closely related to the students' daily computer ap-
plication, thus widely welcomed by them .
In the integrated application experiments, through simple assembly language programming, the students will
understand that computer hardware technology and software technology complement each other. Use DEBUG
to deepen the understanding of theoretical knowledge, students will be familiar with the way data stored in the
memory and operand addressing mode, have more specific understanding of the structure and principle of mem-
ory, and thus can more accurately find errors in the program. Through development experiments of the interface,
students will “see through” the principle, method and application of input and output interfaces. Through expe-
riments of display on PC screen, students will be delighted to see their design performance, experience the
pleasure of “achievement”.
5.2. Innovative Experiment Teaching Methods
Appropriate way of teaching is the necessary condition to achieve good teaching effect. Computer hardware
technology fu ndamental application experiments teaching combine theory and practice closely through theoreti-
cal explanation and practical operation at the same time. The students are tak en as the main body in the process
of teaching; the “one-way infusion” teaching mode is changed to heuristic, discussion-based teaching and learn-
ing. Experiment problems are solved step by step through group study, discussion and practice, and then shared
with the class. Teachers continue to inspire questions, set up difficulties in the class through a planned way,
guide students to think, mobilize the enthusiasm of their learning, and to deepen understanding of the issues by
constantly asking que s tion s and solving problems. Furthermore, it’s positive to organize students to actively take
part in all kinds of computer knowledge lectures and competitions .
Modern teaching methods provide a great help to achieve good teaching. In traditional experiment teaching,
the teacher explains the procedure of the experiments and the use of the instruments in front of the classroom,
the students are crowded to watch, some can see what the teacher taught, some can’t see. The first point in the
open questions of the questionnaire is mentioned “Teaching the experiments with multimedia PPT”. Therefore,
teachers can use CAI technology to express some content which is laborious, not easy to understand, such as the
experimental principle, operation of the instruments, etc. Multimedia technology help the experiment teaching to
get more vivid and rich information through text, sound, graphics, images, and animation. And through course
website, the students can get more free space to accept knowledge and related course materials online.
In case of insufficient teaching hours (32 hours), how to optimize the theoretical teaching content, and streng-
then the experiment teaching, to “ equip students with the ability that use computers to solve practical problems
in related fields” that the course “Computer Hardware Fundamentals” requires, open a general class of elective
course “Computer Hardware Technology Fundamental Application Experiments” is a recommended solution.
The course has just started, however, is still at the exploration stage, and still need the teacher constantly think-
C. H. Fang, Z. D. Wu
ing and improve in practice.
 Song, T. and Li, F.X. (2010) Innovation in the Experiments for Computer Hardware Fundamentals. Journal of Com-
puter Education, 17, 65-68.
 Wang, X.L. and Zhu, L.Z. (2007) Exploring Course Improvement of Computer Hardware Fundamentals. Journal of
China University of Petroleum (Edition of Social Sciences), 8, 104-105.