388016 Assessment of Textbook-Free Courses in the Biochemical Engineering Field As Vehicles for Lifelong Learning
The purpose of this project was to investigate the effect of using alternative ways to deliver content in place of textbooks on the ability of the students to become lifelong learners. The results of this study may be used to design a route map for those who desire replacing the textbook by alternative materials.
I have been teaching a Bioseparations course without a textbook for quite some time. Approximately half of them have used a textbook in the Bioseparations Class and half haven’t. All the students have used a textbook in the Bioreactors class with the exception of this year graduating seniors. The material in the Bioseparations class has been given to the students through Blackboard first and for the last few years in a CD containing: (1) A number of scientific papers and vendors’ material for each of the main core topics, (2) A series of power point slides that the P.I. uses to support his lectures (the slides are not used as the main teaching method in this class), and (3) Reading guidelines where each paper is classified, a short summary is written and a reading priority assigned. By doing this, the instructor provides the structure that the students seem to need to be able to start thinking outside the box and learn directly from the primary sources. My motivation for not using a textbook in Bioseparations (and currently also in a Bioreactors class) is that textbooks in Biochemical engineering are of little use because of the dynamics of the field. For example, the hybridoma technique to produce monoclonal antibodies was developed 40 years ago and today the production of monoclonal antibodies is the most rapidly growing pharmaceutical sector. Moreover, monoclonal antibodies or antibodies fragment are produced today mostly using disposable technology, non-existent 20 years ago. There are no indications, in the students’ comments, that the lack of a textbook is a major hurdle in this Bioseparations class. There are, however, some indications that some students feel “fragile” without a textbook. The effect of the absence of a textbook on lifelong learning and the inclusion of specific activities aimed at facilitating lifelong learning have not been explored. This were addressed in this project.
Short term results were obtained by comparing the students that take the bioreactors/bioseparations sequence. Students’ opinions about (1) the effect of the absence of a textbook on their development as lifelong learners and (2) the significance of the initiatives introduced in the classes as lifelong learning incentives were requested as part of the end of the semester teaching effectiveness survey.
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