437389 Tracking Students' Use of Online Simulation Applets

Sunday, November 8, 2015: 4:50 PM
250F (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Anthony Edward Butterfield and Kyle Branch, Chemical Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

We have developed interactive browser-based applications that simulate realistic core engineering systems, and we have used these apps to facilitate hands-on design projects. For each student’s use of the simulations, we track all mouse movements and clicks, keyboard events, event times, screencast use, and more, leading to a large database that has become the target of in-depth educational data mining, which may be correlated with student course performance. To avoid compatibility issues inherent in the creation of apps and to assure our code may operate on a variety of devices and operating systems, we have created our apps using JavaScript, PHP, and HTML-5; only a modern browser interface is needed.

User profiles and a user hub has been created to facilitate app usage, inform students of their progress, and collect demographic data. We also created begun initial steps to gamify our collection of apps. The resulting database allows us to detect and respond to usage patterns of successful and unsuccessful students, and intervene when common problems are detected.  This usage data also allows us to iteratively develop our educational material, both online and in the classroom.

Student learning and satisfaction were assessed. Throughout the course, student learning was demonstrably improved along with student confidence in a variety of associated engineering skills. Student assessment of the course and learning material were far more positive than those found in a comparable engineering course using static text-book assignments and traditional teaching methods. Our results suggest that the apps we have developed may support hands-on learning earlier in our students’ academic career by making complicated engineering theory more accessible.

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See more of this Session: Apps in Chemical Engineering
See more of this Group/Topical: Education Division