The Use of an on-Line Peer-Review Process within the Framework of a Student’s Chemical Engineering Project
In the pedagogic program of any chemical engineering faculties or schools, one can practically always find an engineering project that consists in defining and calculate an industrial process as a whole. Most of the time, the name of the commercial product and the plant capacity are the sole entries the student, or more likely the group of students, possesses. Students have to find unknown data either in handbooks or real plants, and sometime they have to estimate the missing pieces to make the process virtually work. This type of project is usually performed during the very last year of study, since it needs the integration of a wide variety of basic knowledge and know-hows. Depending on the number of students per group and the time devoted to the project, its scope will be different and may include bloc diagrams, full calculation of any equipment in the flow-sheet, production management, environmental considerations, process control, safety issues, water treatment and utilities, etc.
Because such projects are fully inductive, students are always “complaining” about the lack of background to begin the project, and are usually blocked when they do not encounter the appropriate data. In addition, such projects are in general lasting 4-6 months, which means that it is appropriate for a teacher to consider a frame including several steps to manage student’s work and sustain their implication. In the Ecole des Mines d’Albi, one of the French’s engineering schools, we propose an engineering project for the students of the master level, that are enrolled as apprentices in the pharmaceutical industry. Despite the fact that information on pharmaceutical processes is extremely difficult to encounter, in particular pharmaceutical flow-sheets, those students have enough background and contacts in this industry to give rise to a well-rounded study.
But the main aspect of this project, that definitely gave a lift to all students groups, has been the use of a peer-review process developed on an LMS “Moodle” pedagogic platform, being the students in their own industrial placement at times. Two months before defending the project, each group had an assignment that consisted of posting a 10-slide audio presentation in the platform. Then, each participant had to review one project following a 20-questions grid that was not known in advance. After one week, this review process was completed and the groups were allowed to access to the grids and the comments other students wrote on their work. Each group had then 2 weeks to prepare a 15-slides live presentation, serving as a mock defense of the project. Participating teachers, as well as students-reviewers, took part in the jury, questioning the presenters and giving recommendation for the last month of work. This talk will present the main aspects of this procedure, as well as discussing its added-value for the student’s project.