The final results of my dissertation research about affordable and portable laboratory kits were published in Advances in Engineering Education in 2019. The full paper can be accessed from the AEE website.
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 reflections after each laboratory, midterm exam scores, final 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 significant differences in the achievement of the learning objectives or in the students’ experiences.
R. M. Reck, R. S. Sreenivas, and M. C. Loui, “Evaluating the effectiveness of an affordable and portable laboratory kit for an introductory control systems course,” Advances in Engineering Education, December 2019. Full Paper