Work in progress: Integrating differentiated instruction and project-based learning to teach embedded systems

Sohum A. Sohoni, Shawn S. Jordan, Javeed Kittur, Nielsen L. Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Embedded systems, smart electronics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are topics that are rapidly evolving, not just in research and development laboratories, but in the real world of industrial and consumer products. Because of the fast pace of technological progress, the evolution of standards, and the non-stop growth in the application space, it is impossible to teach our students everything that they need to master. How then, can we best prepare students with a diverse set of needs and abilities to be productive when they join the workforce in this technical area of such high projected need? This paper describes a third-year undergraduate course aimed at teaching students how to design and build embedded systems. The course draws upon two pedagogical concepts: (1) differentiated instruction, where curriculum are designed to help students with a variety of different skill levels and interests to succeed and grow beyond their current level of mastery, and (2) project-based learning, where curriculum relies heavily on hands-on projects such that students learn theory through application in real-world settings. The course walks students through idea generation, requirements specification, design, manufacturing, and testing, ending with a public demonstration of their product. Outcomes for the course are defined not just for technical competence, but also for other areas such as design, critical thinking, teamwork, professionalism and communication. This paper provides details and the rationale behind the choices made by the instructors and describes a study in progress on the effectiveness of a differentiated instruction project-based learning approach to teaching embedded systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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