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A Control System Design Approach to Improve the Attainability of Student Learning Outcomes in Engineering Technology Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Focus on ETAC Accreditation

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Chandra Bhushan Asthana P.E. Elizabeth City State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Chandra Asthana completed undergraduate education in aeronautical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, the postgraduate education in aeronautical engineering and Ph. D. in control systems design at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He has worked at Air India, Defense Research and Development, Hyderabad, India, at CAE Inc. Montreal Canada and Lockheed Martin, Netherlands. He has taught at McGill and Concordia University, Canada. He is currently a visiting Associate Professor at Elizabeth City State University. His research interests are in the area of aviation, aerodynamics, control system design, modeling, simulation, aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles, teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.

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Kuldeep S. Rawat Elizabeth City State University

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KULDEEP S. RAWAT is currently the Dean of Science, Aviation, Health and Technology and Director of Aviation Science program at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). He has earned an M.S. in Computer Science, 2001, an M.S. in Computer Engineering, 2003; and, a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering, 2005, from the Center for Advanced Computer Studies (CACS) at University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He serves as the Site Director for NASA MUREP Aerospace Academy program at ECSU. His areas of interests include embedded systems design, cloud instrumentation, remote computing applications, UAS applications research, mobile robotics, and innovative uses of educational technologies. Dr. Rawat may be reached at

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Akbar M. Eslami Elizabeth City State University

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Dr. Akbar Eslami is a professor and Engineering Technology coordinator in the Department of Technology at Elizabeth City State University. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University. His research interests are in Computer Aided Manufacturing and Design, Reverse Engineering, Finite Element Analysis, and Design Optimization.

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The paper will discuss the use of control system design approach to improve student learning outcomes (SLOs). The SLOs are used as a guide to assess student learning progress as they work through the course. The SLOs provide an excellent framework for an instructor when reviewing materials and preparing for assessments and they are the most effective if they are actionable and measurable. The learning outcomes not only serve the purpose of directing the content and design of a unit of study, they form the basis of assessment and are also linked to the larger outcomes of learning set by the academic program in the form of generic and/or discipline-specific graduate attributes.

The process of achieving SLOs in a course or in a research project can be viewed as a dynamic system. Just as in a dynamic system, the input is tracked well with feedbacks and controllers, it is shown that the same concept can be applied in assessing learning outcomes in a course or a research project. This approach was successfully applied in two engineering technology courses at Elizabeth City State University. The proposed method composed of identifying the SLOs for the course stated in course outline as macro-SLOs and then developed lower level micro-SLOs, which contributed to individual macro-SLOs. These macro-SLOs and micro-SLOS constituted the inner and outer loops respectively of a dynamic assessment system. Further, appropriate tracking of SLOs was ensured by having inner and outer loop feedbacks with controllers in each loop. The input and output of this dynamic system were the target macro-SLOs and achieved macro-SLOs respectively. Tests, exams., assignments, presentations, projects and other methods to assess students were the sensors that provide measured feedbacks to generate error function. The tracking of macro-SLOs was ensured by having an inner loop track micro-SLOs. The controllers in both outer and inner loops were the interventions in this system.

This dynamic system is a Multi-Input-Multi-Output (MIMO) system since the number of SLOs are more than one. One controller was driven by the course instructor while the other was driven by the students in the course. One of the requirements that needs to be met in a multi-loop control system design is that the inner-loop is about 5 to 10 times faster than the outer-loop in order to have a quicker corrective action for microSLOs, which are implemented in the inner loop. Therefore, in this case, the outer-loop frequency was once in a semester and the inner-loop frequency was set to be 5 times in one semester. This means that the course had 5 evaluations carried out for micro-SLOs and these were spaced out accordingly.

The paper will discuss (i) development/identification of macro-SLOs; (ii) developing a set of micro-SLOs for every macro-SLO; (iii) intervention techniques to reduce the gap in attaining SLO; and (iv) implementation results of the proposed approach in engineering technology courses.

Asthana, C. B., & Rawat, K. S., & Eslami, A. M. (2020, June), A Control System Design Approach to Improve the Attainability of Student Learning Outcomes in Engineering Technology Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--33989

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