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Enhancement Of Student Learning In Experimental Design Using Virtual Laboratories

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.564.1 - 14.564.8



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Paper Authors


Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He currently has research activity in areas related to thin film materials processing and engineering education. He is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. Dr. Koretsky is a six-time Intel Faculty Fellow and has won awards for his work in engineering education at the university and national levels.

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Christine Kelly Oregon State University

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Christine Kelly is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. She currently has research activity in biological production and use of ligninolytic enzymes in biomass deconstruction for bioproducts and biofuels manufacture. She also has interests in developing tools to promote the use of higher cognitive skills in engineering coursework. Dr. Kelly recently earned OSU's Austin-Paul Engineering FacultyAward for mentoring students.

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

Enhancement of Student Learning in Experimental Design using Virtual Laboratories


Capstone courses in which students have an opportunity to practice engineering are an important aspect of undergraduate engineering curriculum. In the last 20 years, capstone courses have been integrated into engineering curricula nationwide in response to ABET accreditation requirements and feedback from industry.1 In addition to providing students the opportunity to practice engineering, capstone courses facilitate the development of creative and critical thinking, which are crucial in the practice of engineering. By design, capstone courses are the mechanism by which students apply the core concepts that are critical to their discipline to solve an open-ended problem. This type of activity should enable students to engage in a deeper level of cognition than experienced earlier in their curriculum, which focuses more on analytical skills. In the context of providing an effective capstone experience, we have developed two virtual laboratories, the Virtual Chemical Vapor Deposition laboratory and the Virtual BioReactor laboratory.2-5 In a virtual laboratory, simulations based on mathematical models implemented on a computer can replace the physical laboratory. Virtual laboratories have been developed and integrated into engineering curricula.6-10 However, relative to the work on instructional development, the degree of assessment has been sparse.11-13

Our intent is to provide students a capstone experience in which they can apply experimental design in a context similar to that of a practicing engineer in industry. The objectives of this research are to explore the types of cognition and social interactions of student teams as they engage in these virtual laboratories, to determine the role of instructional design in the response of student teams, and to ascertain whether virtual laboratories can effectively promote types of learning that are difficult or impossible to achieve from physical laboratories.


The specific objectives of the NSF CCLI Phase 2 project are to:

1. Create the following learning materials and teaching strategies based on virtual laboratories: A. Enhance the Virtual CVD laboratory by including interactive reflection tools (e.g., interactive lab notebook, a virtual supervisor), improved treatment of variability and cost, non-radial symmetry, and a new module on statistical process control. B. Using an analogous instructional design, develop a virtual laboratory of a bioreactor, the Virtual Bioreactor laboratory, a process in a different industry. C. Develop level appropriate assignments to use at the high school and community college levels. 2. Develop faculty expertise and implement the virtual laboratories at the BS and graduate levels by:

Koretsky, M., & Kelly, C. (2009, June), Enhancement Of Student Learning In Experimental Design Using Virtual Laboratories Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5111

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