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A Pilot Study of Project-Based Learning in General Chemistry for Engineers

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Kent J. Crippen University of Florida Orcid 16x16

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Kent Crippen is an Associate Professor of STEM education in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research involves the design, development, and evaluation of STEM cyberlearning environments as well as K-12 teacher professional development. In addition to NSF and NIH-funded research involving the translation of science into materials for K12 schools, Crippen has served as PI on multiple state-funded PD projects for STEM teachers.

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Chang-Yu Wu University of Florida Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Chang-Yu Wu is Professor and Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida. His teaching and research interests are in air pollution control, aerosol, incineration and engineering education. He has published more than 130 refereed journal articles, given more than 260 conference presentations and delivered 70+ invited speeches. He has received numerous recognizing his achievements in research and education, including the Lyman A. Ripperton Environmental Educator Award from Air & Waste Management Association in 2015 and the New Teacher Award from SE Section of American Society for Engineering Education in 2001.

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Treavor Boyer University of Florida

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Trisha de Torres

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Maria Korolev University of Florida

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Philip J. Brucat Department of Chemistry / University of Florida

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Engineering education cannot expect to meet the demands of a global, diverse, and knowledge-based society without addressing the well-established issue of student retention. Change Chem is a curriculum reform model created to address this issue for freshman, in particular, traditionally underrepresented student groups. This paper reports on a pilot study of Change Chem, which uses collaborative problem-based learning with model-eliciting activities to transform the discussion section of general chemistry so as to better retain freshman who are engineering majors. The study involved a quasi-experimental design with a treatment (i.e. reformed curriculum) and comparison condition (i.e. business as usual) that was completed over a two-semester sequence. Across the two courses, 530 students consented to participation. Participant outcomes were compared at the course level (treatment group vs. comparison group). In addition, female students and students who were classified as underrepresented ethnic minorities were identified as a single group (i.e. target group) so that their outcomes could be compared across the courses (treatment vs. comparison). After the first course, all groups gained in their perception of learning, but students in the comparison condition had higher grades. Self-efficacy and professional persistence decreased for students using Change Chem. After the second course, Change Chem performed equal to or better than the comparison on all variables. In fact, the Change Chem group increased in three key variables: perception of learning, confidence in their math and science abilities and exposure to project-based learning. This may suggest a treatment effect that requires a longer duration. These results indicate that Change Chem supports learning and motivation for all students, important elements for long-term retention. Plans for additional re-design of the model and further study are discussed.

Crippen, K. J., & Wu, C., & Boyer, T., & de Torres, T., & Korolev, M., & Brucat, P. J. (2016, June), A Pilot Study of Project-Based Learning in General Chemistry for Engineers Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26396

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