Design of computer simulator-based learning modules and assessments for a subject in Control Engineering
Nguyen, HD, Design of computer simulator-based learning modules and assessments for a subject in Control Engineering, Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 8-11 December 2013, Gold Coast, Queensland, pp. 1-10. ISBN 978-0-9924099-0-6 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]
The paper presents the design of simulator-based learning modules and assessments in the context
of teaching tough and abstract concepts in control engineering related units to maritime engineering
students in the modern era of high technology. Maritime engineering students at the Australian
Maritime College, University of Tasmania, have a great challenge in comprehending control
engineering units that contain much mathematics related abstract concepts and principles. Good
pedagogic methods and practice should be applied in teaching such tough concepts so that maritime
engineering students motivate themselves in student centred learning. Computer simulators provide
flexible tools to visualise control concepts so that students can comprehend dynamic behaviour of a
control system. The paper discusses the authorís recent teaching practice in simulator-based learning
modules and assessments and investigates their efficacy in studentsí learning process.
The main purpose of this paper is to introduce the design and practice of computer simulator based
learning modules and assessments for a control engineering related unit to be taught at the Australian
Maritime College/National Centre for Maritime Engineering and Hydrodynamics.
The simulator-based learning modules and assessments for a control engineering based unit were
designed based on a combination of mathematical models, simulation technique, user interface and
visualisation and flexible tools for online and on-campus delivery. A trial using these learning modules
and assessments has been done as an assessment component of the control engineering related unit
for two years. The efficacy of the simulator-based learning modules and assessments has been
analysed by studentsí involvement in the learning process and feedback/comments.
The computer simulators helped to visualise many tough and abstract concepts of the control
engineering related unit and the simulator-based learning modules got students actively involved in
learning process and assessments. The method of using simulator-based learning modules and
assessments stimulates studentsí learning motivation and the student centred learning process. All
students who took the unit with a simulator-based assessment component were involved in learning
process and the majority of studentsí feedback and comments have been positive.
The main benefit of computer simulator-based learning modules and assessments is that students can
comprehend tough concepts through graphics and animation in the simulators. In comparison with the
classic teaching method, the new method has motivated the studentsí learning and got students
involved in student centred learning process.
Refereed Conference Paper
Simulation based learning and assessment, control engineering education