Evaluating Relative Instructional Effectiveness and Efficiencies of Design Activities for Product Platform Planning


Product Platform Planning is markedly different from the traditional product development process and a relatively new development in engineering design. To present the basic principles of this new and different engineering design topic as well as current research on planning and architecting families of products, in our previous study, we developed an online resource. The tool includes a set of three cases, a tutorial, and a glossary in a multimedia format hosted on the Internet. The cases are based on a family of product power tools. They present information in the form of function diagrams, assembly diagrams, customer needs and market-segment data. In addition, they have been designed to provide different product platform assignments at an increasing level of complexity. This paper presents two preliminary quantitative methods to evaluate the instructional effectiveness and efficiencies of the learning tool. Also, a model linking the two methods is proposed. The proposed model is defined in terms of two nodes: service delivery node and learning node. The learning node involves analyzing the effectiveness of the tool, which is based on the students' design concepts for the case assignments. The service delivery node involves analyzing the efficiency of the tool, which is based on the case studies and three output variables---assignment appropriateness, clarity, and effectiveness---and a single input variable---assignment technical complexity. The performance of both nodes is measured using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). The measurement experiment was conducted with five undergraduate students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who participated in a summer National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program focused on product platform planning. A major outcome of this research is an improved understanding of relative instructional effectiveness and efficiencies of the learning activities for product platform planning. Also, a model to relate these two analyses quantitatively is developed. Furthermore, it contributes in terms of developing a relative measurement of instructional efficiencies of design activities with the simultaneous considerations of their desired outputs and input variables.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA); Product Development; Product Platform Planning; New products

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2006 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2006

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