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Electronic Lab Notebooks Impact Biomedical Engineering Students’ Quality of Documentation and Technical Communication

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Development of Technical and Soft Skills in BME

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Paper Authors


Monica Dominique Okon The Ohio State University

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Monica Okon, a current graduate student in biomedical engineering at Ohio State University, became interested in engineering education when starting as a graduate teaching associate (GTA) for the Engineering Education Department at Ohio State University. She has had the opportunity to teach the Fundamentals in Engineering laboratory component for the standard courses sequence as well as served as a lead GTA for this department for two years. She is currently a lead GTA in the Department of Biomedical Engineering where she helped pilot the electronic lab notebooks in junior level labs.

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Tanya M. Nocera The Ohio State University, Department of Biomedical Engineering

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Tanya M. Nocera, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University. She is focused on developing, teaching and assessing upper-level Biomedical Engineering laboratory courses, with particular interest in improving student technical communication skills.

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Laboratory notebooks have long been used as a tool to develop student documentation and technical communication skills in laboratory courses. Given the presence of social media as well as other methods of electronic communication, computer mediated activities provide an opportunity to educate students in a familiar setting. For this reason, we have pursued a study to measure the impact of electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs, LabArchives Classroom Edition) on the quality of upper-level biomedical engineering students’ documentation and technical communication skills. A total of forty ELNs submitted by students enrolled in a biomechanics lab course during autumn 2016 and paper-based notebooks submitted by students enrolled in the same course during autumn 2015 were selected for this study. Notebooks were quantitatively analyzed against a rubric designed to measure how well the selected notebooks met assessment criteria in the categories of communication, documentation and presentation. Results showed significantly higher overall mean and category-specific scores for ELNs compared to paper-based notebook submissions (p < 0.05). It was concluded that lab course notebook keeping in an electronic format may be an effective medium for aiding students in improving documentation and technical communication skills.

Okon, M. D., & Nocera, T. M. (2017, June), Electronic Lab Notebooks Impact Biomedical Engineering Students’ Quality of Documentation and Technical Communication Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28210

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