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Design and Evaluation of Modules to Teach PLC Interfacing Concepts

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Design Experiences in Manufacturing Education

Tagged Division

Manufacturing Division (MFG)

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Paper Authors


Sheng-Jen Hsieh Texas A&M University

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Dr. Sheng-Jen ("Tony") Hsieh is a Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution and a member of the Graduate Faculty at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. His research interests include automation, robotics, cyber-manufacturing and Industry 4.0; optical/infrared imaging and instrumentation; micro/nano manufacturing; and design of technology for engineering education. He is also the Director of the Rockwell Automation Laboratory at Texas A&M University, a state-of-the-art facility for education and research in the areas of automation, robotics, and Industry 4.0 systems. He was named Honorary International Chair Professor for National Taipei University of Technology in Taipei, Taiwan, for 2015-21. Dr. Hsieh received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.

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Susan Pedersen Texas A&M University

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Susan Pedersen is an associate professor of Learning Design and Technology at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on the design of games and virtual environments to support learning complex skills.

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Integrating the components of an automated system is a complex and multi-faceted cognitive skill. Instructional technologies are being used successfully to teach some aspects of system integration, such as PLC programming and system design. However, there has been relatively little emphasis on developing technologies to help students learn about the devices and machines that make up systems, interfacing, and system troubleshooting. Students typically get their first exposure to PLC interfacing during labs. Making the correct connections between a PLC and the various types of input/output devices, bridging devices, machine controllers, machine vision systems, human machine interface (HMI) panels, and power supplies can be confusing and intimidating. Students often spend precious lab time waiting for an instructor to check a circuit or answer a question. An integrated problem-solving environment (I-PSE) is being developed to address this gap. This paper presents the design, development, and evaluation of several interactive web-based instructional modules to help students learn PLC interfacing concepts such as ladder logic and I/O devices, basic wiring, and interfacing with bridge devices. Groups of learners ranging from 34 to 65 individuals reviewed the modules. They completed pre- and post-tests to assess instructional effectiveness, a survey to provide feedback about the design and usefulness of the modules, and a self-assessment of their knowledge of I/O interfacing concepts. Results suggest that the modules have a positive impact on student learning. In addition, the self-efficacy survey results suggest that the experience of using the modules—together with lectures and labs—has a strong positive impact on learners’ self-efficacy related to writing ladder logic and interfacing I/O devices.

Hsieh, S., & Pedersen, S. (2023, June), Design and Evaluation of Modules to Teach PLC Interfacing Concepts Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42917

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