Enhancing the learning experience of undergraduate technology students with LabVIEW™ software

Tiernan, P. (2010) Enhancing the learning experience of undergraduate technology students with LabVIEW™ software. Computers and Education, 55 (4). pp. 1579-1588. ISSN 03601315 (ISSN)


Many universities and colleges, throughout the world, that deliver undergraduate programmes in science and engineering are currently incorporating virtual instruments as teaching, measurement and analysis tools for student learning. The aim of this study is to enhance the learning experience of undergraduate engineering students and stimulate their research interests by incorporating hands-on, hardware linked programming. The framework for the current research consisted of, initially, observing and recording the interest students showed in a graphical-based computer language for programming control and data acquisitions. Secondly, in the software laboratory sessions, the students were introduced to the concept of research activity and the use of computer software in such activity. LabVIEW™, an easy-to-use, interactive, graphical programming language that can be used to build virtual instruments was used in the current study. This software allows creation of sophisticated programs and applications in a shorter amount of time without needing an in-depth knowledge of computers or indeed programming languages. The methodology consisted of an introductory learning period for the LabVIEW™ programming language, followed by hands-on programming with a specific set of laboratory exercises aimed at solving typical industrial automation type problems. Finally the results of a detailed student questionnaire and created programs were analysed to establish the learning experiences. It was established that student experiences in designing and developing LabVIEW™ programs with associated hardware has hugely stimulated their interest and enthusiasm in the subject of industrial automation. Students acquired knowledge by direct experience, explored phenomena, visualized expected outcomes and experimented with possible solutions. Critically, the LabVIEW programming laboratory sessions undertaken during the course of this research has stimulate students interest in pursing further research at post-graduate level. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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