A method to evaluate relative instructional efficiencies of design activities for product platform planning

Asii Sahin, Janis Terpenny, Timothy Simpson, Steven Shooter, Robert Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Product Platform Planning is markedly different from the traditional product development process and a relatively new development in engineering design. Different than optimizing products independently, it requires integration of principles from both management and engineering design for developing a set of products that share common features, components, and/or modules. 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 work, we developed an online resource, including, 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. They have been designed to elucidate different product platform problems at increasing levels of complexity. This paper presents a Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) model to evaluate the relative instructional performance of the first two case studies. The model involves four engineering students' perceptions about the case assignments collected via survey methods. In the analysis, the instructional efficiencies of the case studies were defined in the form of a ratio of three carefully selected outputs (assignment appropriateness, clarity, and effectiveness) to a single input variable (assignment technical complexity). The DEA model has shown that Case 2 is almost twice as efficient as Case 1 with respect to the students' experience with the case assignments. Presenting the concepts of function-based family design, component sharing, and modularity along with customer needs-driven approaches and decision-making appeared to be instructionally more intuitive and cognitively more complete for the students. A major outcome of this research is an improved understanding of relative instructional efficiencies of the learning activities for product platform planning. This supports choosing the type of "what if" questions to be addressed in such activity creations. 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. Therefore, the proposed evaluation method eliminates assigning weights to be attached to each input and output, as in the usual index number approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2006
Event113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Jun 18 2006Jun 21 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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