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Collaborative Experimentation And Simulation: A Pathway To Improving Student Conceptualization Of The Essentials Of System Dynamics And Control Theory

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.317.1 - 10.317.11



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Paper Authors

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Javier Kypuros

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Thomas Connolly

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Collaborative Experimentation and Simulation: A Pathway to Improving Student Conceptualization of the Essentials of System Dynamics and Control Theory

Javier A. Kypuros, Thomas J. Connolly

University of Texas - Pan American / University of Texas at San Antonio

Abstract The overarching goal of this research is to improve conceptualization of System Dynamics and Controls concepts by incorporating a Web-facilitated curriculum to enable inter- campus collaboration and remotely-accessible or virtual systems. This approach will complement lecture-based curricula and will strongly enhance students’ conceptualization and exposure to System Dynamics and Controls fundamentals by providing less restricted exposure to a variety of systems that encompass the more important Dynamic Systems concepts. The plan involves the development of a System Dynamics Concepts Inventory and the implementation and assessment of three Web-enabled laboratory formats: (1) inter-campus collaborative experimentation, (2) remotely-accessible experiments, and (3) virtual system experiments. Each format has its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Remotely-accessible experiments, for example, can be made more readily available to students outside of regular laboratory hours, but the lack of hands-on exposure limits the potential scope of the experiments. Each format has been preliminarily implemented using a variety of dynamics systems that reflect some of the more important fundamentals pertinent to System Dynamics. These activities are currently being incorporated into a laboratory course at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and a lecture course at the University of Texas - Pan American (UTPA). A preliminary Course Inventory is being developed in collaboration with faculty at both institutions. An initial assessment of each laboratory format has been completed. This paper reports on the findings including a detailed discussion of the development of the Course Inventory, a discussion of the pros and cons of implementing each format, and an evaluation of the impact of each format in addressing student conceptualization of a few key fundamentals.

Introduction Engineering students struggle to understand the roles of dynamic systems modeling and control in engineering. They struggle to visualize the motion and dynamic response of physical systems.1 Students often perceive dynamic systems concepts, especially automatic controls, as a “large collection of abstract math.”2 They get lost in the mathematics and struggle with conceptualizing implementation of fundamentals to predict and control the dynamic response of physical systems. Textbooks and chalkboards are not sufficient means for demonstrating the

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Kypuros, J., & Connolly, T. (2005, June), Collaborative Experimentation And Simulation: A Pathway To Improving Student Conceptualization Of The Essentials Of System Dynamics And Control Theory Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15185

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