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Characterization of Student Model Development in Physical and Virtual Laboratories

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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

22.321.1 - 22.321.11



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Paper Authors


Erick J. Nefcy Oregon State University

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Erick Nefcy is a Doctoral student in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University.
Through his undergraduate studies, he has held multiple internships at Intel Corporation. He is currently studying the growth of self forming barrier layers in copper thin films as well as investigating the student teams? use of models during completion of the Chemical Vapor Deposition Virtual Laboratory project.

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Philip H. Harding Oregon State University

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Dr. Harding has served since 2007 as the Linus Pauling Distinguished Engineer at Oregon State University School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering. He has worked in the oil, pulp and paper, and microelectronic industries with a history of responsibilities including process engineering, research and development, product reliability, and worldwide manufacturing and research strategy. He holds 14 patents, with another nine pending. Most recently, he worked for Hewlett-Packard Company in the role of Master Technologist.

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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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Characterization of Student Model Development in Physical and Virtual LaboratoriesAbstractThis study characterizes student teams’ use of models as they proceed through three laboratoryprojects in the first quarter of the capstone laboratory sequence in the XXX Department at XXXUniversity. Two of the laboratories are physical laboratories, based on the unit processes of heatexchange and ion exchange. Sandwiched between these two laboratories, students undergo avirtual laboratory. The virtual laboratory can be used to simulate complex or expensive toolsthat are not readily available for use by undergraduate students, but that are more representativeof industrial systems. In this study, a virtual chemical vapor deposition laboratory is used. Theinstructional design of the virtual laboratory project is intended to complement the physicallaboratory projects in the curriculum. Students interact with a three-dimensional computersimulation to gather data. In the virtual mode, there is lower cognitive demand required toperform the actual experiments. This aspect affords the students the opportunity to build a richexperimental design based on interpretation and iteration.Previously, we have reported a graphical method that has been developed, termed modelrepresentation and usage maps. These maps characterize student teams’ model development asthey proceed through a laboratory project. Classifications in the graphical representation ofmodel development include: nature of the model component (quantitative, qualitative, graphical,empirical, statistical), utility of the model component (operationalized, abandoned, not engaged),correctness of the model component, action based on the model component (did it direct thevalues of input variables for a future run, was a run used to quantify model parameters, was themodel qualitatively verified, etc.), and emotional responses to model verification or mismatch.Data sources include laboratory journals, written work products, and, for the virtual laboratory,experimental records available through the instructor interface. In this paper, the modelrepresentation and usage maps for 14 teams are developed as they complete both physical andvirtual laboratory projects. Analysis of the model representation and usage maps confirms thatthe virtual laboratory project affords students a richer opportunity for model development,modification, and use of evidence-based reasoning.

Nefcy, E. J., & Harding, P. H., & Koretsky, M. (2011, June), Characterization of Student Model Development in Physical and Virtual Laboratories Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17602

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