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Chemical Engineering Students' Emotions towards Biology

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Work in Progress: Assessment, Evaluation and Hands-on Activities

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Justin F Shaffer Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Justin Shaffer is a Teaching Associate Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Shaffer's research focuses on high structure course design and student attitudes towards biology. He teaches thermodynamics, material and energy balances, anatomy and physiology, and introductory biology.

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Jordan Lopez Colorado School of Mines

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Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate: Graduating December 2020

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Alexander Luther Ellis Colorado School of Mines

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Alexander is a rising senior at the Colorado School of Mines. He is studying Chemical Engineering with a focus on Biological Engineering. He is also working towards a secondary education licence through the University of Northern Colorado with the intention to pursue a career in secondary education after graduating in May 2021.

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Student attitudes towards specific disciplinary topics may impact their motivation to succeed in a course and their ultimate career paths. As biology has become an ever more important component of the chemical engineering curricula, it is important to understand how chemical engineering students perceive and view the discipline of biology. Anecdotal evidence suggests chemical engineering students may not have overtly positive attitudes towards biology, which may hinder their desire to enroll in biology courses and purse biology-related chemical engineering careers. The goal of this study was therefore to begin to characterize chemical engineering student attitudes towards biology by assessing students’ emotions towards biology. The previously developed Attitudes Towards the Subject of Mathematics Inventory (ASMI) was modified to create the Attitudes Towards the Subject of Biology Inventory (ASBI) which consists of nine Likert-type statements based on the semantic differential technique that assess students’ emotions towards biology in terms of intellectual accessibility and emotional satisfaction. In addition, the survey asked students to state overall whether they had positive or negative emotions towards biology and to explain why. Sophomore-level chemical engineering students (n = 275) completed the survey and responses were entered into Excel. Demographic information on prior biology coursework and performance were also collected. Thematic analysis methods were used to code the written responses. Preliminary analysis suggests that a majority of students have overall positive emotions towards biology but that the reasons for this vary widely from positive feelings towards a prior course or instructor to appreciation for biology as a field of study. These results suggest that the anecdotal findings of chemical engineering students potentially negative attitudes towards biology are not due to emotions. Future work is underway to assess other aspects of chemical engineering students’ attitudes towards biology including self-efficacy, utility value, and thing-person orientation.

Shaffer, J. F., & Lopez, J., & Ellis, A. L. (2020, June), Chemical Engineering Students' Emotions towards Biology Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34280

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