A multiple-constructs framework for teaching control concepts

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The phenomenon of control is an essential component of our everyday natural, social, and artificial environment. Control-related concepts have become a central component of many core topics in modern technology education. Our knowledge about students' abilities to understand (analysis) and design (synthesis) controlled systems, however, is still poor. Evidence already collected shows that students have serious difficulties in transcending the phenomenal or behavioral understanding of a system's functioning toward more formal definitions of the control process. In this paper a framework to start dealing with these and related issues is proposed. First, the nature of controlled systems is discussed. Then a conceptual framework encompassing a variety of perspectives on and approaches to control is presented. The framework consists of two main components: the process component and the representational component. The first relates to the stages in the process of defining and implementing control. The second is the repertoire of constructs Used for defining and implementing control. Two main paradigms are suggested as the conveyors of very different cognitive approaches to control: programming and design paradigms. Finally, the educational implications of the proposed framework at both the cognitive and the instructional levels are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-496
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


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