Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Proceedings of the All-Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE) Conference, NUI Maynooth, August, 2006


This paper reports on, reflects on, and evaluates the author’s experiences of teaching the Advanced Control module on the Masters degree in Advanced Engineering at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) over the past four academic years. The teaching approach has evolved from a traditional didactic lecture and laboratory course, with associated assessments, in the first academic year, to the implementation of a more learner-centred approach over the past two academic years. This new approach has been made possible by the appropriate use of real case studies, information technology tools, and web-based virtual laboratories. Assessment methodology has also evolved. In the first academic year, four individually tailored student assignments were set; this prevented plagiarism, while allowing students to work in teams if they wished, as each assignment had a common theme. The assignments were a mixture of traditional examination questions and design problems (which involved limited use of the MATLAB/SIMULINK computer tool). Over the past two academic years, three individual student assignments have been set. Two assignments are primarily based on virtual laboratories on the web, and are assessed by the author using a written report. The final assignment is an individual student PowerPoint presentation on applications of automatic control in bioengineering, computer networks, waste management, and energy efficiency, among other topics. This assignment is peer assessed by the students. An improvement in learning outcomes has been noted using the new approach; formal student feedback has also been positive. The author is committed to deepening the learner-centred approach in the future, with, for example, the inclusion of further industrial case studies, and the progressive implementation of the module in an e-learning environment.