Carl R. F. Lund, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University at Buffalo, SUNY, 505 Furnas Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260
Statistics indicate that the vast majority of engineering courses are taught using a traditional lecture format. Research suggests that other formats, particularly active learning, can be much more effective. The National Research Council and others have stressed the need to create a community of education scholars who can assist other faculty seeking to implement alternative teaching approaches. However, many faculty who desire to be as effective as possible in the classroom may not seek such help if the required investment of time is substantially greater than that for a traditional lecture format. Instead, they will continue to use traditional lectures. One way the required time investment could be reduced would be through the development of a comprehensive, integrated TExT (Toolkit for Exceptional Teaching). A prototype of such a TExT is being developed in the area of kinetics and reaction engineering. The TExT includes written materials (learning objectives, information and examples) equivalent to those what would be found in a traditional textbook. It additionally includes video files that present the information and examples in the format of a traditional lecture. For students, the TExT also incorporates additional solved and unsolved examples (all including grading rubrics), computational tools, and other learning resources. The traditional textbook stops at this point (actually short of it since textbooks don't usually include a full set of lectures). The TExT also includes a number of components for the teacher. These include review slides that can be used to quickly review the information presented in the video lectures, a large set of in-class learning activities, assessment tools for student learning (quizzes, homework, exam problems), all with grading rubrics, and tools for assessing the effectiveness of the learning activities. The TExT is designed to use active learning in the classroom. Students would be assigned lecture videos and readings to be completed prior to class. In class, the teacher would review the information from the pre-class assignment and answer any questions. This normally takes only a small fraction of class time. Hence, the lecture has been moved out of the classroom, making room for active learning. The majority of the class time is then devoted to learning activities. These are varied in type and approach (individual, collaborative, inquiry, case study, problem based, object lesson, etc.). The key advantage is that the TExT provides many more learning activities than are needed, and for each one it provides a detailed lesson plan and resource list. Thus, the instructor can choose activities that suit their situation, but more importantly, the lesson plan tells them exactly how to conduct the activity in class, what resources they will need in order to do so, and possible pitfalls they may encounter (with suggestions how to proceed). This helps ensure an effective implementation of the learning activity, but it also substantially lessens the time investment required of the instructor. Because the learning activities are part of an integrated package (the TExT), the nomenclature, format, level of theory, and prerequisite knowledge are completely consistent with everything else going on in the course (the lectures, examples, homework, exams, quizzes, etc.). This presentation will describe the components of the prototype TExT, provide examples of the learning activities and discuss some preliminary qualitative assessment based on student course evaluations.