A Study of Graphical vs. Textual Programming for Teaching DSP

Publish Date: Nov 08, 2009 | 2 Ratings | 4.50 out of 5 | Print

Mark Yoder, Bruce Black, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Proceedings of the 2006 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition

Copyright © 2006, American Society for Engineering Education. Reprinted with the permission of ASEE

The proponents of graphical programming (that is using graphics to program a computer, not programming a computer to do graphics) claim graphical programming is better than text-based programming; however text-based programmers far out number graphics-based programmers.  This paper describes the preliminary developments of comparing the use of LabVIEW (a graphical programming language) to MATLAB® (a text-based language) in teaching discrete-time signal processing (DSP).

This paper presents the results of using both methods in a junior-level introduction to DSP class.  The students who enter this class have had a course in continuous-time signals and systems but no DSP theory background. The class uses the text “Signal Processing First”, by McClellan, Schafer, Yoder, published by Prentice Hall, to introduce discrete-time signal processing.  In the past, a series of MATLAB® based mini-projects were used in addition to homework to reinforce the DSP concepts. The new version of the class uses the same mini-projects except that they are based on LabVIEW.

Several quarters of concept inventory data have been collected on the MATLAB® version of the class. The same inventory was used with the LabVIEW version of the class and the results compared. The authors do not expect this study to answer the “which is better?” question.  Rather it will give experience in assessing what the tradeoffs are in choosing between two very different types of programming languages to teach DSP.

MATLAB® is a registered trademark of The MathWorks, Inc.

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