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Board 36: Work in Progress: Assessment of Google Docs and Drive for Enhanced Communication and Data Dissemination in a Unit Operations Laboratory

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Chris Barr University of Michigan

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Dr. Christopher Barr is the Instructional Laboratory Supervisor in the Chemical Engineering Department at University of Michigan. He obtained his Ph.D. at University of Toledo in 2013 and is a former Fellow in the N.S.F. GK-12 grant "Graduate Teaching Fellows in STEM High School Education: An Environmental Science Learning Community at the Land-Lake Ecosystem Interface". His main responsibilities are supervising and implementing improvements to the undergraduate labs. In Fall 2017, he was a lecturer for the Chemical Engineering Laboratory II. He also holds positions on the departmental Safety Committee and Undergraduate Program Committee.

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Unit Operations (UO) Laboratories serve as a valuable hands-on setting for the application of the theory learned in multiple lecture-based chemical engineering courses. These labs build practical knowledge of equipment and design, encourage good engineering practices such as traceability and reproducibility of data, and help develop skills such as interpersonal and technical communication skills.

During Winter 2007, our senior UO laboratory implemented interconnected experiments in a “pilot-plant” scale as well as interconnected rotational objectives for the experiments. A brief overview about the operation of our senior UO lab will be given in this presentation for context. These interconnected objectives build upon the results of the previous group within a given semester as well as those from other unit operations. As a result, dissemination of information amongst current project group members, amongst group members of the next rotation, and amongst lab personnel is extremely important. In previous years, students have been asked to use pen-and-paper lab notebooks and/or binders to record their data. This author has seen a decline in the use of traditional laboratory notebooks from students over the past couple years in both our junior and senior UO laboratories. This decline is possibly due to increases in electronic data acquisition and results as well as the prevalence of students’ personal technology (e.g. personal laptops and tablets). It is unknown to this author if the students are just not using the pen-and-paper lab notebook or if they are using some alternate not given by the laboratory.

In order to teach the importance of data record keeping for the UO labs, especially as industry shifts towards electronic record keeping, we have implemented electronic laboratory notebooks using Google Drive and Google Docs in Fall 2017. This Cloud-based storage not only allows easy sharing and tracking of changes by group members but also sharing of analytical results and tracking of progress by lab personnel. This talk will discuss the implementation of the electronic lab notebooks as well as benefits and difficulties in the use of cloud-based programs within the UO Laboratories. Student usage of the electronic laboratory notebooks will be assessed by observational data and compared to those in the junior unit operations laboratory where pen-and-paper laboratory notebooks are currently being used. Student satisfaction with electronic lab notebook usage will be assessed by course evaluations and student comments.

Barr, C. (2018, June), Board 36: Work in Progress: Assessment of Google Docs and Drive for Enhanced Communication and Data Dissemination in a Unit Operations Laboratory Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30017

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