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Inductive Learning In Process Control

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Innovations in the ChE Laboratory

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.724.1 - 9.724.8



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Paper Authors

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Polly Piergiovanni

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S. Scott Moor

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

Session 2213

Inductive Learning in Process Control S. Scott Moor and Polly R. Piergiovanni Lafayette College

Abstract Different forms of inductive learning were used to help keep student interest high and to help some aspects of process control become intuitive to the students. Both simulation software and laboratory kits where the students could conduct an experiment in the classroom were used for the exercises. The exercise either lasted for the full two hours of the class, or was a short introduction at the beginning of class. The students’ response to the methods showed that they preferred a quick inductive exercise, followed immediately by discussion and lecture to explain what they had seen. However, we also saw value in exercises that lasted the entire class period, and are continuing to work on incorporating both types of processes in the course.

Introduction Maintaining student interest in process control is challenging. Lant & Newell note that most students find process control conceptually difficult, perceive it as peripheral and have trouble integrating it with other material.1 As a result they “find it more of a chore than fun to learn”. The attempts to answer these practical problems in process control education have been addressed using three broad approaches: (1) computer simulations, (2) laboratory experiences and (3) case studies.2,3,4,5.

In our course we are taking the approach of using both a simulator (Control Station)6 and experiments based on classroom experimental kits.7 In many case we are using an inductive approach with these tools. The inductive approach to teaching and learning is to begin with particulars and build to generalities. This is “backwards” from how we often naturally teach starting from general principles and then applying them to particulars. The inductive approach is the way most things are discovered and clearly how an infant learns, but it is not the way most courses are taught. It, therefore, requires we think differently about how we approach the classroom.8-13

A clear and helpful critique of traditional teaching approaches can be found in Thomas Magliozzi’s “The New Theory of Learning”.14 Magliozzi is best known as one of the hosts on the NPR radio show “Car Talk” but he was also for many years a professor of management. He starts off describing the weakness of the traditional lecture model of instruction noting, “Listening does not lead to understanding; doing does lead to understanding.”14 He also provides a popular level description of a problem-based style of inductive learning under the title, “The backwards learning theory.” Of particular interest is his emphasis on the ways a problem can provide motivation to increasing learning.

Piergiovanni, P., & Moor, S. S. (2004, June), Inductive Learning In Process Control Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13257

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