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As part of an instrumentation course, a problem-based learning framework was selected for laboratory instruction. Two acquisition chains were designed to help students carry out realistic instrumentation problems. The first tool is a virtual (simulated) modular acquisition chain that allows rapid overall understanding of the main problems in instrumentation. The second tool is an actual modular chain allowing students to test these modules in practice and fine-tune the results. The didactic impact of the laboratory-and especially of the two acquisition chains-was evaluated using three approaches: an evaluation questionnaire, the problem outcomes, and a written examination. These results show that the students valued the laboratory-based coursework and found both tools useful. Furthermore, they were able to address problems at a high cognitive level.