480514 Science Comics for Improved Understanding of Chemical Engineering Concepts

Monday, November 14, 2016
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
David Urick1, Daniel Accetta1 and Lucas J. Landherr2, (1)Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, (2)Department of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

A major obstacle in science and engineering education is the highly abstract nature of many disciplinary topics. References to “real world” examples, videos, and other types of demonstrations is ubiquitous in many classrooms. However, these methods often fail to impart a deep understanding of the underlying theory at work. Furthermore, a physical example or demonstration may not exist, especially in the case of abstract, mathematical concepts such as fugacity or experimental error and uncertainty. Finally, professors can be ineffective due to limited time with students or large class size. Therefore, these topics remain foreign to many students after classroom instruction. Science-themed comics developed for specific curricular concepts in chemical engineering have been implemented alongside classroom and laboratory instruction as a secondary explanation of subject matter. These comics received an overwhelmingly positive response. Surveys after distribution revealed that reading the comics enhanced student confidence and understanding in the material. Overall, comics have proven to be an effective educational tool suited for widespread implementation, especially in cases where professor-student face time is limited.

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