Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
The one-semester Senior Design course at Colorado School of Mines has seen a large number of changes & developments over the past several years. The evolution of assessments, upgraded from general checklists to detailed checklists and ultimately to detailed rubrics for all assignments, along with structuring the course to be more front-loaded enables more consistency between different professors grading the same assignments (for different students or student groups). Introducing active learning methods has made students more enthusiastic about attending class. Anecdotally, these highly detailed rubrics also helped in reducing clarifying questions from students and active learning reduced the need for clarification (OH or email questions)—professors who had little or no prior experience with active learning methods found it highly effective as well and continued introducing more activities during lecture in successive years. Introducing reading guides & quizzes (the latter for participation points, due before the related-lecture) allowed us to eliminate several lectures in the first few weeks of the course, as these were previously simply rehashing information in the textbook. In addition, the introduction of peer-grading of a follow-up assignment (after students have received feedback on the first assignment) has reduced the workload for the professors while simultaneously enriching the amount and quality of feedback most students receive. Students had long requested the addition of industrial or other externally sponsored projects. While this was relatively labor-intensive in the first year (making contacts, writing contracts), it has been a highly rewarding exercise for everyone—nevertheless, the authors recommend keeping a professor responsible for grading, as industrial sponsors can have less of an understanding of course design and assessment standards than academics and/or have trouble delineating course learning objectives from project goals. Finally, it is strongly recommended to teach Aspen in the form of tutorials (either in-class or via videos) as students appreciate this learning mode (it is consistently mentioned positively in mid- and end-of-course evaluations) and benefit from it very well. The authors have also had a positive experience after dividing the expectations for progress reports and meetings with a bright line: progress reports focus on schedule, tasks, an updated draft report, and a summary of the latest results; meetings and presentations focus on actual content of the design (e.g., design decisions, stream tables & flow diagrams, etc.). Many of these suggestions are best practices, as identified and discussed in literature, while some are merely suggestions the authors found useful in this incarnation of the course. Since 2016, this core team of instructors has invested considerable time and effort in improving this course, soliciting various modes of student feedback and applying new pedagogical principles and techniques from the literature and from professional development activities. This paper describes these efforts, some of the newly developed tools and instruments used in the course, and some anecdotal results of these efforts from both students and instructors. The authors invite any interested faculty to seek direct contact by email with any questions or requests for materials, such as grading rubrics or reading guides.
Barankin, M. D. M., & Cash, K. J. (2020, June), Chemical Engineering Senior Design at Colorado School of Mines: Recent Innovations & Achievements Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34279
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