During my dissertation, I surveyed control systems faculty, laboratory staff, and industry professionals to determine common aspects of undergraduate control systems instructional laboratories. Through two different survey techniques, I defined the most common learning objectives, concepts, and components of a laboratory apparatus. The results of this study were recently published in IEEE Transactions on Education. The full paper can be downloaded from IEEE Explore.
Course objectives, like research objectives and product requirements, help provide clarity and direction for faculty and students. Unfortunately, course and laboratory objectives are not always clearly stated. Without a clear set of objectives, it can be hard to design a learning experience and determine whether students are achieving the intended outcomes of the course or laboratory. In this paper, a common set of laboratory objectives, concepts, and components of a laboratory apparatus for undergraduate control systems laboratories were identified. A panel of 40 control systems faculty members completed a multi-round Delphi survey to bring them toward consensus on the common aspects of their laboratories. These panelists identified 15 laboratory objectives, 26 concepts, and 15 components common to their laboratories. Then 45 additional faculty members and practitioners completed a follow-up survey to gather feedback on the results. In both surveys, each participant rated the importance of each item. While average ratings differed slightly between the two groups, the order in which the items were ranked was similar. Important examples of common learning objectives include connecting theory to what is implemented in the laboratory, designing controllers, and modeling systems. The most common component in both groups was MathWorks software. Some of the common concepts include block diagrams, stability, and PID control. Defining common aspects of undergraduate control systems laboratories enables common development, detailed comparisons, and simplified adaptation of equipment and experiments between campuses and programs.
R. M. Reck, "Common Learning Objectives for Undergraduate Control Systems Laboratories," in IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 257-264, Nov. 2017. doi: 10.1109/TE.2017.2681624