Evaluating the effectiveness of an affordable and portable laboratory kit for an introductory control systems course

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Laboratory kits allow students to take home laboratory equipment to complete experiments on their own time. Because of the lower cost, laboratory kits expand access to hands-on experiences for online courses and to budget-strapped campuses. Although students like laboratory kits, no previous studies compared student learning objectives on assignments using laboratory kits with existing laboratory equipment. We conducted a quasi-experiment to compare students' achievement of learning and their experience in the instructional laboratory for two offerings of an introductory control systems course. Half of the laboratory sections in each offering used the existing equipment, while the other sections used a new kit. The objectives of the laboratory experiments were the same for both types of equipment, and the instructions were as close as possible. In order to assess the students' achievement of the learning objectives and understand the students' experience, we collected a variety of data, including graded laboratory reports, end-of-semester surveys, focus groups, student refl ections after each laboratory, midterm exam scores, fi nal exam scores, and control systems concept inventory scores. This comprehensive assessment method may be of independent interest. Based on the data collected, we found no signifi cant differences in the achievement of the learning objectives or in the students' experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Laboratory
  • Learning objectives
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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