434859 Enhancing Learning and Increasing Rigor in an Introductory Energy Balances Course

Tuesday, November 10, 2015: 9:18 AM
Alpine East (Hilton Salt Lake City Center)
Mary M. Staehle1,2 and Mariano J. Savelski1, (1)Chemical Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, (2)Biomedical Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

Learning to solve chemical engineering problems with energy balances is often challenging for underclassmen, yet the concepts are foundational and paramount for advanced coursework.  Also of import at this stage of the curriculum is an introduction to the rigor and complexity of multifaceted problems.  To address these, we have implemented a more rigorous, increased contact hour model in our introduction to energy balances course that includes traditional lectures, semi-flipped classroom problem solving sessions, weekly readiness assessments, a comprehensive group project, optional challenge problems, and a dedicated weekly tutoring session.  Students were surveyed at the end of the course and asked to rank these learning activities according to their helpfulness in learning the course material.  On average, in-class problem solving sessions and lectures were reported to be the most helpful, suggesting that students value interactions with the professor.  The tutoring session and textbook were reported to be the least helpful.  Interestingly, the optional challenge problems, which required a thorough understanding of the course material to complete correctly, ranked third.  The semester-long comprehensive group project received divergent responses – some students found it to be most helpful, while others reported it as least helpful.  The qualitative comments regarding the project were generally positive, so we hypothesize that this dichotomy relates to student engagement and group dynamics in the team project.  Taken together, we found that a variety of learning activities facilitated student learning of energy balances, consistent with a known spectrum of student learning styles.  In this presentation, we will describe the learning activities in more detail and provide additional qualitative student feedback.

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See more of this Session: Free Forum on Engineering Education: The First Year and Sophomore Year
See more of this Group/Topical: Education Division