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Enhancement of Student Learning in Experimental Design Using Virtual Laboratories: Year 3

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.617.1 - 22.617.10



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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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Enhancement of Student Learning in Experimental Design Using Virtual LaboratoriesAbstractPresently there is a need to develop more effective ways to integrate experimental design into theengineering curriculum. To address this need, we are developing virtual laboratories that providestudents a capstone experience in which they can apply experimental design in a context similarto that of a practicing engineer in industry. In a virtual laboratory, students do not interact withreal equipment to obtain data, but rather with computer simulations of laboratory equipment, thatproduce results that can be obscured by noise. However, as opposed to being constructed as adirect one-to-one replacement, the instructional design is to compliment the physical laboratoriesin the curriculum so that certain specific elements of the experimental design process areaddressed. This NSF CCLI Phase II project builds upon the successful proof-of-concept grant tomore fully develop the virtual laboratory as a learning tool for teaching experimental design, toinvestigate its utility and to extend its effectiveness.Results are presented from two virtual laboratories, the Virtual CVD Laboratory, a simulation ofan industrial-scale chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor, and the Virtual Bioreactorlaboratory, based on an industrial scale bioreactor process. Qualitative assessment data in theform of think-aloud sessions are being collected and analyzed. A novice-expert comparison isbeing developed by having engineers from industry also perform the project while participatingin the think-aloud protocols. Student perceptions of learning are compared between the virtuallaboratory and two physical laboratories using set of short answer survey questions that wasasked after each laboratory. A method to represent student groups’ model development as theyproceed through the task situated in the cyber-environment of the virtual laboratory is beingdeveloped. Data sources include laboratory journals, an initial design memorandum, the finalwritten and oral reports, and experimental records available through the instructor interface. Inaddition to the implementation at the university level, the Virtual CVD Laboratory is being usedby over 500 students at 4 different High Schools. New, level-appropriate assignments have beendeveloped. Based on this successful experience, five workshops have been delivered to highschool, community college and university instructors.

Koretsky, M., & Kelly, C. (2011, June), Enhancement of Student Learning in Experimental Design Using Virtual Laboratories: Year 3 Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17898

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