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Development of a design- and project-based framework to include scientific reasoning in an undergraduate, introductory-level bioengineering laboratory course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

"Best" of BED

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.413.1 - 23.413.18

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Paper Authors


Idalis Villanueva University of Maryland, College Park

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Dr. Villanueva has been a lecturer in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering in the University of Maryland at College Park since fall 2011. Prior to that time, Dr. Villanueva was a postdoctoral fellow performing research for the Analytical Cell Biology Sector in the National Institute in Neurological Disorders and Stroke within the National Institutes of Health for two years. Her work focused on isolating the calcium load versus route hypothesis in hippocampal neurons exposed to ischemic stroke conditions. Prior to her postdoctoral appointment, she worked in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering as a graduate researcher isolating the role of biomechanical and biochemical cues in cartilage cells that were encapsulated in photopolymerizable hydrogels. She earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Dr. Villanueva has been an active participant of outreach activities for minority students and students with disabilities interested in science and engineering through the Colorado Diversity Initiative, PROMISE program in the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and collaborations within the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Villanueva is currently a member of BMES, ASEE, and SACNAS.

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Rachel L. Manthe Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, College Park

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Kevin M Knapstein Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility, Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, College Park

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Work in Progress: Development of a problem-based undergraduate, introductory level bioengineering laboratory course to assess 21st century skills Kevin Knapstein1, 2, Rachel Manthe2, and Idalis Villanueva2, Ph.D. 1 Bioprocess Scale-Up Facility, University of Maryland, College Park 2 Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland, College Park Abstract Individuals who are successful in engineering and design are believed to possess one ormore 21st century skills (problem-solving, critical thinking, technology literacy, creativity,independent learning, and excellent communication and collaboration skills). However, moreand more employers reveal their deep concern that the nation is not preparing the youngergenerations with the skills needed to compete in the global economy. In the authors’ opinion,early intervention is essential. In the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University ofMaryland at College Park, a new approach to a traditional laboratory course has been introducedto freshmen and sophomore students to encourage autonomy and decision-making whilebringing forth some of these critical 21st century skills. The course is divided into one lecture and one laboratory session per week. In the firstlecture session, students are introduced to common problems for two selected target areas inbioengineering: biofuels and biopharmaceutical production. Students form teams and each teamis assigned to one focus area based on entries provided to an online polling system. The studentgroups are expected to follow the necessary steps to communicate an idea, develop theirexperimental plans, and execute each desired task as a team. To aid them through this process,we have designed workshops using conceptual mapping and Universal Design Learning to helpstudents master needed experimental, design-based, and team-based skills. Workshop topicsinclude designing a hypothesis statement, establishing experimental controls and protocols,analyzing and interpreting data, and development of proper progress reports and oralpresentations. To help track individual progress, students are asked to provide videos, pictures,diagrams, and written documents of their experimental progress and observations into an onlineelectronic portfolio system (; originally developed by Dr. Leigh Abtsin collaboration with Project Lead the Way). The electronic portfolio system contains step-by-step elements that guide students into the design process: from the development of an idea to theexecution of their plan. Moreover, students are encouraged to seek individual help by solicitinga formal online review of their online journal entries, which are due on select dates. Duringthese review periods, the instructor, teaching assistant, laboratory technicians, or any additionalpersonnel will answer questions to any student concerns as well as provide constructive feedbackwhenever solicited. Group progress will be tracked through progress reports and peerevaluations, which are also due on select dates. During the course of the semester all curricular material including pre- and post-knowledge surveys, questionnaires, progress reports, quizzes, peer evaluations, and electronicjournal entries will be collected to assess the development of 21st century skills throughout thecourse. The information will enable us to determine whether a problem-based and designed-based instructional approach is effective in establishing the baseline needed for students to attainand further develop these 21st century skills throughout their education.

Villanueva, I., & Manthe, R. L., & Knapstein, K. M. (2013, June), Development of a design- and project-based framework to include scientific reasoning in an undergraduate, introductory-level bioengineering laboratory course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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