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Adaption of a Virtual Laboratory Curriculum: A Preliminary Study of Implementation at Other Institutions

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Chemical Engineering in Silico

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.139.1 - 22.139.16



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Paper Authors


Debra Gilbuena Oregon State University

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Debra Gilbuena is a doctoral student in Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. She currently has research focused on student learning in virtual laboratories. Debra has an M.B.A. and M.S. as well as four years of industrial experience including a position in sensor development, an area in which she holds a patent. Debra was awarded the Teacher's Assistant of the Year Award by the College of Engineering at Oregon State University for her work as a Teacher's Assistant.

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Ben Uriel Sherrett Oregon State University

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Ben is currently studying for a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering Design at Oregon State University. His research interests include design methodology and engineering education.

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Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He currently has research activity in areas related to thin film materials processing and engineering education. He is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. Dr. Koretsky is a six-time Intel Faculty Fellow and has won awards for his work in engineering education at the university and national levels.

Acknowledgments: The authors are grateful for support provided by the National Science Foundation’s Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Program, under Phase 2 grant DUE-0717905. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Adaption of a Virtual Laboratory Curriculum: A Preliminary Study of Implementation at Other InstitutionsTransportability is a widespread goal of education research and curriculum development. It isadvocated by funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and isspecifically emphasized in the new Transforming Undergraduate Education, in Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) Program, which requires transportability as amain component for funding of proposals. Often developers of curricular interventions providesuggestions for implementation, curricular materials, and support; however, one aspectcommonly missing is more reflective and evidence-based description of the implementationprocess as technical and pedagogical innovations move from the institution at which they weredeveloped to other institutions with different faculty, different students and a different culture.This paper describes the adaption of a virtual laboratory curriculum from its home university toother institutions. While the primary emphasis will be the transfer to other universities, data highschools and community colleges will also be presented. In a virtual laboratory, students do notinteract with real equipment to obtain data, but rather with computer simulations of laboratoryequipment, obscured by noise. The virtual laboratory was developed with the intent of allowingfuture engineers to practice the skills they will need in industry, in much the same way a flightsimulator is used for training pilots. The idea of using virtual laboratories to facilitate projectbased learning is compelling since, once the software has been developed, the cost to transfer itis relatively small, consisting mostly of developing faculty expertise.The aspects of transfer specifically studied include differences in project context, objectives,timeline, and assignments at the participating institutions, as well as student and facultyperceptions. Data sources include two broad categories: (i) artifacts of implementation (e.g.,lesson plans, project assignments and student work products), and (ii) participant perceptions(e.g., student and faculty survey responses and audio recordings, transcripts, and notes of semi-structured interviews). The initial interpretation presented in this paper focuses on both thesuccessful aspects and the troublesome aspects of the transfer and adaption process. This paperfocuses on a subset of a larger investigation on student learning in virtual laboratories.

Gilbuena, D., & Sherrett, B. U., & Koretsky, M. (2011, June), Adaption of a Virtual Laboratory Curriculum: A Preliminary Study of Implementation at Other Institutions Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17420

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