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Cost-effective, Inquiry-guided Introductory Biomaterials Laboratory for Undergraduates

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Using Technology and Research-based Instructional Practices in BME

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.412.1 - 26.412.16



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Paper Authors


Casey Jane Ankeny Arizona State University

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Casey J. Ankeny, PhD is lecturer in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. Casey received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2006 and her doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University in 2012 where she studied the role of shear stress in aortic valve disease. Currently, she is investigating cyber-based student engagement strategies in flipped and traditional biomedical engineering courses. She aspires to understand and improve student attitude, achievement, and persistence in student-centered courses.

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Sarah E. Stabenfeldt Arizona State University

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Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University

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Cost-Effective, Inquiry-guided Introductory Biomaterials Laboratory for UndergraduatesInquiry-guided instruction has been shown as more effective than traditional instruction. Ininquiry-based instruction, students work in a self-directed manner to interpret outcomes based oninvestigation of their own question. Here, we describe a cost-effective, sustainable biomaterialslaboratory for undergraduates using inquiry-guided instruction at a large public university.The four laboratory components focused on key biomaterial topics and lasted for two-to-threeweeks. During the first week, students were provided with available materials pertaining to themodule and worked with group members and instructor(s) to devise and test a custom hypothesisinstead of using “cookie cutter” lab manuals. In the second week, students performedexperiments to test their hypotheses. During the last week, student performed analysisappropriate for their custom experimental design. Each lab was scaled to be completed in 90minutes. This allows for multiple mini-sessions in the allotted period, resulting in smaller groupsand a variety of hypotheses. Further, this course design allowed students at a large institution tohave a more personal, hands-on experience. This laboratory was developed for 120 studentsmeeting during the same three hour block. Total costs per student for the four modules were $35per student.To assess this intervention, a mix method approach was adopted, including faculty vignettes anda student knowledge and value survey called the Scientific Literacy and Student Value inInquiry-guided Lab Survey (SLIGS). The SLIGS is comprised of two portions: Part Ainvestigating scientific literacy and Part B investigating student value of the inquiry-guidedpedagogy. Both parts were assessed for validity using factor analysis and reliability usingCronbach’s alpha. Data were analyzed with Mann-Whitney U tests for non-parametric statistics.The SLIGS had excellent internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha >0.8). All questions factoredas anticipated with the exception of one per part. Questions that did not factor were excluded.The scientific literacy portion showed high levels of confidence both pre- and post-intervention(76% and 89% respectively, npre = 155 and npost=93). Further, there was a statistically significantincrease in confidence in seven of the nine categories including explanation of scientificoutcomes (79% to 95%), assessment of experimental methodology (75% to 96%), and design ofexperiment (69% to 95%). With respect to the survey portion pertaining to the value of inquiry-guided labs, students showed a high level of interest [73% mid-semester (M); npre = 131 and 81%at the end of semester (E); npost=93]. Further, they felt that the labs were of utility value (77%-Mand 85%-E), and did not require too much in terms of emotional and time costs (71%-M and71%-E). Lastly, there was a statistically significant improvement in mid- to end-of- semesterassessments in several categories, including student engagement, relevance to the real-world, andthe desire to see other inquiry-guided labs.In summary, this laboratory is not only sustainable due to low cost and time requirements butalso adopts the evidence-based practice of inquiry-based instruction. Moreover, assessmentshowed student improvement in scientific literacy and favorable student attitudes in terms ofinterest, utility, and emotional and time costs.

Ankeny, C. J., & Stabenfeldt, S. E. (2015, June), Cost-effective, Inquiry-guided Introductory Biomaterials Laboratory for Undergraduates Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23751

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