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Creating and Facilitating Engaging, Rigorous Fully-Online Technical Courses (or just Online Content for Face-to-Face Courses) - an MEB Example

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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

Chemical Engineering in the Sophomore Year

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Tracy Q Gardner Colorado School of Mines

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Tracy Q. Gardner graduated from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) with B.S. degrees in chemical engineering and petroleum refining (CEPR) and in mathematical and computer sciences (MCS) in 1996 and with an M.S. degree in CEPR in 1998. She then got her Ph.D. in chemical engineering, studying transport in zeolite membranes, from CU, Boulder, in 2002. She did a postdoc at TUDelft in the Netherlands in 2002 and 2003, studying oxygen conducting mixed oxide membranes and teaching reactor engineering, and she has been teaching back at CSM since 2004. She is now a Teaching Professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at CSM. Her primary research focus is in pedagogy, specifically in utilizing online resources and other technology and different teaching methods to increase student engagement and reduce/eliminate lecturing in the classroom. She likes to play with her kids, play racquetball, run, bike, swim, and play pool in her free time.

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Creating and Facilitating Engaging, Rigorous Fully-Online Technical Courses (or just Online Content for Face-to-Face Courses) – an MEB Example

Many institutions are offering courses, certificates, and even entire degrees online these days. Perhaps your institution is trying to begin, expand, or enhance its online presence as well? Maybe you’ve created some online content that you use in face-to-face (F2F) courses and are curious what it would take to go all the way and create a fully online offering of your course? Maybe you or some of your colleagues think it’s impossible to offer and assess a truly rigorous technical course with a high student success rate? Maybe you don’t want to create a fully online course but are interested in creating online elements for your F2F course, possibly even online exams that can be at least partially automatically graded? If any of that fits or even intrigues you, there’s something for you to get excited about in this paper!

This paper will present a process for designing, key components of facilitating, and a successful example end result of an online technical core engineering course. The specifics presented are for a Material and Energy Balances course, but the methods and approaches apply generally. “Successful” is defined here in terms of both quantitative and qualitative metrics. Quantitatively, key metrics (student pass rate, quiz and exam averages, course GPA) were comparable for the summer 8-week online course to both a 15-week normal semester F2F and a summer 6-week F2F offering by the same instructor. Qualitatively, student evaluations and comments were strongly positive, even moreso than for F2F offerings in some important ways, and the course was fun to facilitate!

Furthermore, student engagement, which is typically thought of as difficult to garner in online courses in general and is so key for success for many students in Material and Energy Balances, was strikingly rich and fruitful. Details will be presented in the paper.

Methods for making sure students get regular and productive feedback and stay engaged with each other, the course content, and the instructor will be presented. Example course elements built to address diversity of student backgrounds and learning approaches will be shown. Data comparing student performance and impressions of this online course with other F2F versions will be presented. And perhaps most importantly, tips and ideas for writing rigorous assessments that can be completely or partially graded automatically, for either online or F2F courses, will be offered (and hopefully will start a broader discussion on this exciting topic amongst the Chem E community!).

Gardner, T. Q. (2020, June), Creating and Facilitating Engaging, Rigorous Fully-Online Technical Courses (or just Online Content for Face-to-Face Courses) - an MEB Example Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34346

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