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Instructional Development And Assessment Of A Task Oriented Senior Level Data Acquisition Project In A Simulated Business Environment

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Electrical ET Curriculum and Projects

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.752.1 - 13.752.13



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Paper Authors


Carl Spezia Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

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Carl J. Spezia is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Technology Program located in the Department of Technology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). He joined the program in1998 as a Visiting Assistant Professor. He worked as a power systems engineer for electric utilities for eight years prior to seeking a career in higher education. He is a licensed professional engineer in Illinois. His industrial assignments included power system modeling, power systems protection, and substation design. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from SIUC in 1991 and 2002 respectively. He teaches courses in electric power and machinery, industrial automation, and electric circuits. His research interests include power systems economics, power markets, and electric energy management.

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

Instructional Development and Assessment of a Task-Oriented Senior Level Data Acquisition Project in a Simulated Business Environment


Problem-based learning experiences give technology students a chance to construct their own knowledge base and implement it in an actual application. Some students excel when given this freedom, while others flounder and fail. One reason students struggle is they are accustomed to procedural labs and small-scale analysis problems. They lack experience in applying technical knowledge to open-ended problems. This paper presents the instructional, hardware, and software designs for a ten-week senior level control and data acquisition project that transitions students from small-scale procedural laboratory experiments and individual design tasks to multi-task projects that require coordinated design efforts. The instructional design simulates a business environment where a design team must divide work, complete individual tasks, and integrate separate subsystems to successfully complete a project. To promote the importance of clear written technical communication in a business setting, students report their progress and results in memo form. They then utilize the results of other design team members to produce final technical reports covering the entire project design. This technique uses both instructor and peer evaluations to assess student performance. Based on eight years of student participation, this paper presents the strengths weaknesses of the instructional design.

I. Introduction

Employers value self-motivated workers with management and communication skills who can function effectively in teams. Today’s engineers and technologists must have technical proficiency, and also understand the mission and goals of their employer to remain in the workforce. Current engineering technology accreditation requirements recognize these demands and focus on measurable student outcomes. The new requirements seek to develop life-long learning skills, written communication skills, and oral communication skills along with technical proficiencies in all graduates. Satisfying these goals requires new teaching methods that are more student-centered.1 One technique being applied is project-based learning.2,3

Project-based leaning provides enriching educational experiences that help motivate students to become self-learners.1 Project-based learning experiences give technology students a chance to construct their own knowledge base and implement it in practice. Project-based learning also promotes active student participation in the learning process and outcome, which for some students is a difficult transition. Adopting project-based learning in technical courses requires changes in student behaviors along with new instructional methods. Students whose experiences are limited to procedural lab exercises and who have worked individually or in pairs have difficulty adjusting to the open-ended nature of the process.4 Well-designed transitional projects can help all students move from prescriptive lab experiments and projects to project-based learning experiences by developing the necessary skills and behaviors to help them succeed.

Spezia, C. (2008, June), Instructional Development And Assessment Of A Task Oriented Senior Level Data Acquisition Project In A Simulated Business Environment Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3587

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