Asee peer logo

Teaching Plcs Using The Kolb Learning Cycle

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Automation Subjects in Manufacturing Education I

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1183.1 - 15.1183.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Nebojsa Jaksic Colorado State University, Pueblo Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Nebojsa I. Jaksic received the Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University in 1984, the M.S. in electrical engineering, the M.S. in industrial engineering, and the Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University in 1988, 1992, and 2000, respectively.

From 1992 to 2000 he was with DeVry University in Columbus, OH. In 2000, he joined Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he is currently an Associate Professor and the mechatronics program director. Dr. Jaksic's interests include manufacturing processes, automation, and nanotechnology education and research. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, SME, and MRS.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Teaching PLCs using the Kolb Learning Cycle


This work describes an integral approach in teaching programmable logic controllers (PLCs) using the Kolb learning cycle. PLCs represent a module in a computer-integrated manufacturing course in two engineering programs at our institution. The two main learning objectives of this module are to demonstrate practical knowledge of PLCs by being able to program them and to develop a sufficient increase in problem solving skills using physical and PLC ladder logic when designing simple automation projects. Combined lecture and laboratory activities implementing the Kolb experiential learning cycle for the PLC module are addressed. The success of the module is assessed and evaluated through student performance tests in solving design problems using ladder logic and through student surveys. Results demonstrate an effective method for student learning when lectures and labs are integrated in a meaningful manner.


In engineering education, depending teaching, a number of teaching and learning methodologies and their combinations are used. Since engineering is considered an applied discipline, many of the methods revolve around laboratory experiences as reinforcements to the engineering concepts taught during regular classroom-oriented sessions. Project-based learning and discovery-based learning are often used in engineering laboratories. However, integration of lectures and labs with their corresponding learning methods is difficult for a number of practical reasons.

Using the Kolb learning cycle students learn new concepts by following an activity pattern exemplified by the questions hy hat hat if?. By repeating the cycle, students gain deeper understanding of the subject.

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are used frequently in many automation projects in industry. They are often an integral part of most computer-integrated manufacturing systems whether controlling individual machines or entire processes. Thus, it is important that students learn to use these devices to be able to design automated equipment or processes. Furthermore, students should gain knowledge that can easily be applied to PLCs of different types and manufacturers using different programming environments and different programming languages.

Previous Work

In 1976 and subsequently in 1984 Kolb1,2 presented a theory of learning styles and incorporated 2 this theory into a theory of learning , , regardless of the learning style, people learn best if they follow this cycle consisting of four steps (axes): experiencing (concrete experience), watching (reflective observation), thinking/modeling (abstract conceptualization), and applying/doing (active experimentation). A set of activities

Jaksic, N. (2010, June), Teaching Plcs Using The Kolb Learning Cycle Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16954

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015