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Development and Usability Testing of a Student Mobile Application for the AIChE Concept Warehouse

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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

Mobile Devices and Apps

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.516.1 - 26.516.10



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Paper Authors


Rachel M. White Oregon State University

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Rachel White is a senior in chemical engineering at Oregon State University. Her interest in engineering education comes from student experience and observing fellow classmates struggling with their studies. She is interested in promoting conceptual understanding in the chemical engineering core curriculum so that students can perform better both in the classroom and beyond.

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Bill Jay Brooks Oregon State University

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Bill Brooks is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. As an undergraduate he studied hardware, software, and chemical engineering. He ultimately received his Ph.D. from Oregon State University in Chemical Engineering. He is currently interested in the development of technology to study and promote STEM learning.

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Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC San Diego and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in Chemical Engineering. He currently has research activity in areas related engineering education and is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher-level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. His research interests particularly focus on what prevents students from being able to integrate and extend the knowledge developed in specific courses in the core curriculum to the more complex, authentic problems and projects they face as professionals. Dr. Koretsky is one of the founding members of the Center for Lifelong STEM Education Research at OSU.

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Development and Usability Testing of a Student Mobile Application for the AIChE Concept WarehouseIncorporating user feedback is imperative for the adoption and continued usage of educationalinnovations in the classroom. We report on the development of an Android-based studentmobile application, a user-suggested improvement for the AIChE Concept Warehouse. AnApple-based mobile application is also in development. Our intent is to share the applications’development and improvement process in the hopes that other innovators can benefit from thelessons learned through our experience.The AIChE Concept Warehouse was developed with the intent of fostering a community oflearning within chemical engineering. The Concept Warehouse is a web-enabled databaseinfrastructure that is designed to promote concept-based instruction through the use of conceptquestions. These concept questions are used in core curriculum courses like Material/EnergyBalances, Thermodynamics, Transport Phenomena, Kinetics and Reactor Design, and MaterialsScience. These concept questions are able to help lower the barrier of using concept-basedinstruction and assessment, which can be used to promote and evaluate student learning in real-time. The instructor is then able to adjust the pace of lecture in response to studentunderstanding. The Concept Warehouse also allows for reflective assessments such as “themuddiest point.”The student mobile application was developed to make it easier for students to submit answersand written explanations to these assessments using mobile devices. Originally, students couldsubmit their answers to conceptual questions using clickers, mobile browsers on smartphones,and laptops. Input via smartphones, however, proved cumbersome because it depended on thequality of the student’s mobile browser and utilized the full-size webpage interface. Theimproved mobile student interface facilitates participation by making responses via smartphonemore user-friendly.After the development of the application, we conducted initial usability tests with students whohad previously used the web-based options for answer submission. In order to gauge usability,we collected usage statistics from student responses to a usability survey. Survey responses wereused to identify student likes and dislikes as well as to compare different available options foranswer submission. These results will be used to improve the design of the current applicationas well as guide our design decisions for the development of the iOS version of the student app.

White, R. M., & Brooks, B. J., & Koretsky, M. (2015, June), Development and Usability Testing of a Student Mobile Application for the AIChE Concept Warehouse Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23854

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