Students Choose LabVIEW for Signal Processing

Publish Date: Nov 12, 2018 | 23 Ratings | 3.65 out of 5 | Print | Submit your review

Professor Mark Yoder, Ph.D., coauthor of the top-selling textbook Signal Processing First: A Multimedia Approach, recently transitioned the signal processing course at Rose-Hulman from The MathWorks, Inc. MATLAB® software to the National Instruments LabVIEW graphical development environment. Rose-Hulman has been ranked the No. 1 under-graduate engineering program for seven consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. This move takes advantage of the intuitive nature of graphical programming and the students’ ability to focus on and interact with signal processing concepts.

Dr. Yoder created numerous online interactive LabVIEW simulations for student experimentation and mini-projects that mirror those found in the Signal Processing First textbook, which has been adopted by more than 70 schools worldwide and translated into four languages.

Figure 1. A custom subpalette assists students with signal generation and visualization when completing their mini-projects.


Improving the Learning Experience
Dr. Yoder’s primary goal was to increase the pedagogical gain through graphical interaction and implementation of concepts. Dr. Yoder did this by converting the course to LabVIEW and measured the success with a student survey at the end of the course.

The survey results showed that students quickly became comfortable with and even preferred LabVIEW. Most students had no LabVIEW knowledge but found it easier to learn than the MATLAB software by a 4 to 1 margin. Dr. Yoder found similar results when assessing the usefulness of LabVIEW in solving signal processing problems. In general, students preferred LabVIEW as a learning tool by a 3 to 1 margin.

In addition to the survey, Dr. Yoder conducted a concept inventory assessment test to measure students’ signal processing knowledge before and after the course. The test results, which show the highest gain ever, along with the survey results, have been published in a paper at the 2006 ASEE National Annual Conference. You can read Dr. Yoder’s paper, “A Study of Graphical vs. Textual Programming for Teaching DSP,” at the link provided at the end of this article.

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Table 1. Survey results show students’ preference toward LabVIEW as a learning tool.


Getting Students Started
With the help of his students, Dr. Yoder created interactive signal processing simulations and mini-projects, using both graphical programming and textual math with MathScript in LabVIEW. Students used LabVIEW to implement basic and advanced signal processing algorithms with a custom toolkit created by Dr. Yoder. This toolkit – created using built-in functions, custom VIs, and the new sound card API introduced in LabVIEW 8 – is accessible via a custom subpalette to aid students with their mini-projects.

Figure 2. Students remotely explore signal processing concepts using a standard Web browser with lab examples built in LabVIEW.


Virtual Labs – Hands-On Learning
With live, interactive LabVIEW simulations, students gain hands-on experience from Dr. Yoder’s course Web site. These simulations offer students the option to easily revisit concepts and explore theory covered in class and in the textbook. You can find these resources on the official Signal Processing First companion Web site at

The migration of Dr. Yoder’s course to LabVIEW has proven successful at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Students not only prefer LabVIEW and find it easier to use but also learn signal processing concepts better with it.

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