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A Platform for Computer Engineering Education

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.87.1 - 24.87.14

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Paper Authors


Sohum A. Sohoni Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Dr. Sohoni is an Assistant Professor in Engineering and Computing Systems at Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation. Prior to joining ASU, he was an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University. His research interests are broadly in the areas of computer architecture and performance analysis, and in engineering and computing education. He has published in ACM SIGMETRICS, IEEE Transactions on Computers, the International Journal of Engineering Education, and Advances in Engineering Education. His research is supported through various internal and external funding agencies including the National Science Foundation.
He is a popular and well-respected instructor, and has received many teaching awards including the Regents Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010 at OSU.

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Kerri S. Kearney Oklahoma State University

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Dr. Kerri Kearney is an associate professor of educational leadership at Oklahoma State University. Her professional experience is in both education and organizational consulting. She holds an M.B.A. and an Ed.D. Her research agenda focuses on the emotional impacts of human transition, other mothering, visual methodologies in qualitative research, and other organizational and educational topics.

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Rebecca L. Damron Oklahoma State University

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The goal of the Progressive Learning Platform (PLP) pilot project is to teach students how theunderlying hardware building blocks relate to organization and architecture ofmicroprocessors. PLP helps students link computer engineering concepts—logic design,microprocessors, computer architecture, embedded systems, compilers, operating systems, andhigh-level language constructs—in order to be able to construct a deeper understanding of the fieldof computer engineering. This deeper/richer understanding is expected to improve theirknowledge retention, and their ability to assimilate new knowledge when they enter theworkforce. PLP is based on the theoretical framework of conceptual blending—how human beingssynthesize new knowledge by assimilating and blending what they already know. Since someaspects of this framework are similar to constructivism, PLP-based courses utilize project-basedlearning, collaborative learning, and an emphasis on students being able to articulate designdecisions. To test the effectiveness of PLP pre/post tests in a number of courses served as quantitativedata while qualitative results were obtained from linguistic analysis of student reflective essays andvideo transcript of students from lab sessions, and through focus group interviews. The qualitativemethods allowed us to stand in the students’ shoes and provided deep insights into how theyacquired procedural and conceptual knowledge. Our results show that students viewed PLP-basedcourse projects as authentic tasks representative of real engineering projects. The results alsoshowed that the PLP environment served to push students to go back and review concepts fromcurrent and previous courses that they would need to apply in their projects. The project has produced a number of products including tutorials for instructors and students,research papers, PLPTool Java code, the PLP instruction set, and the PLP reference implementationin Verilog. All these are available on the PLP website to facilitate easy adoption of PLP at otheruniversities. We are looking for partners to adopt PLP in their courses. The long-term vision forPLP is to be a free and scalable platform for face-to-face and online education in computingworldwide. We are at the initial stage, where our platform is mature and tested at our own sites,but has not been adopted at other institutions. Expected future direction for PLP includes three lines. Visualization tools that use PLP as theunderlying engine aim to allow students at all levels (middle-school through practicingprofessionals) to understand how computers work. We are also working on creating literature,website materials, and tutorials to facilitate PLP’s adoption by other instructors. This work willhelp in the third line of exploration- research on impact of PLP on student learning.

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