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Does Active Learning Promote Understanding And Entrepreneurial Tendencies?

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

The Latest in Improving Learning in ChE Students

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.448.1 - 13.448.12



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Paper Authors

author page

William Kelly Villanova University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Does Active Learning promote understanding and entrepreneurial tendencies? Abstract

Engineering colleges are interested in finding ways to develop the entrepreneurial spirit within their graduates. Many believe that this will contribute to future job security and economic prosperity in this country. Active in-class learning activities, such as in class problems and discussion, seems to have potential for promoting better understanding by more fully engaging the students. This stimulus then could pique student’s curiosities, motivating them to think more deeply and creatively about the subject matter and how it could be applied in an entrepreneurial way to solve modern day problems via technological solutions. A study was conducted in a Junior level core chemical engineering course to determine whether more active learning activities leads to better understanding and retention of the course material and to students exhibiting more entrepreneurial tendencies. One section of approximately 25 students experienced active learning activities for approximately 25% of the in-class time, whereas the other section of the same size experienced active learning approximately 50% of the time. With regards to the types of active learning activities – a similar balance was employed for each section. Exam performances of the two sections were compared against each other to assess the degree to which an increase in active learning promotes understanding and retention. Entrepreneurial tendencies were noted for individual students as they worked on group projects near the end of the semester. Before the projects were handed out, both sections were exposed to lectures on state-of-the-art heat transfer technological solutions to some current problem(s). During these lectures, entrepreneurial characteristics (i.e. creativity and “big-picture thinking” etc..) and skills (i.e. problem identification, market analysis and patent searching etc..) that were exhibited during the conception and development of the new technologies were emphasized. In assessing performance on the projects, it was noted whether the students chose project ideas that extended from the concepts learned during the active learning activities and to what degree those students exhibited entrepreneurial tendencies by identifying and developing creative new technology ideas in the area of heat transfer.


Active learning (AL) is an important part of many high school and college classrooms. The core elements of active learning are student activity (doing) and engagement (thinking)1. Many students prefer to learn or have concepts reinforced through active learning, and believe that it promotes better understanding because “you are using or explaining the concepts as opposed to just listening to them from someone else”2. Instructors trying to employ active learning during a lecture or throughout a semester-long course are confronted with many questions however, especially engineering instructors whose profession often requires optimization. What type of active learning exercises should be employed? Conducting experiments and discussions

Kelly, W. (2008, June), Does Active Learning Promote Understanding And Entrepreneurial Tendencies? Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3280

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