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Enhancing undergraduate student learning experience in an environmental engineering course through use of technology and industry partnership

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Conference

2016 ASEE International Forum

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 25, 2016

Start Date

June 25, 2016

End Date

June 25, 2016

Conference Session

Concurrent Paper Tracks Session II Courses

Tagged Topic

International Forum

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27244

Download Count

43

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Paper Authors

biography

Lokesh P Padhye The University of Auckland

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Dr. Lokesh Padhye received his Masters and PhD from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. Before joining academics, he was a senior staff engineer with Geosyntec Consultants in Kennesaw, GA. Since 2014, he is working with the University of Auckland as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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Abstract

As New Zealand’s education system, NCEA, does not mandate chemistry learning in upper two standards of higher secondary education for the admission to engineering, it poses significant challenges for the academic staff involved in teaching environmental engineering courses as environmental chemistry is an integral part of the undergraduate degree curriculum. It was evident from past experiences and course evaluations that New Zealand’s domestic, undergraduate students, without adequate knowledge of high school chemistry, get easily dejected by the course content if taught with the traditional approach. Hence, to improve students’ understanding of the course content and class participation, we experimented with two strategies for an environmental engineering course: online quizzes and frequent guest lectures from industry leaders.

The online quiz component was not designed as a replacement for traditional assignments; rather, it was a supplementary tool for enhancing students’ learning experience. However, it aided in reducing the length and a total number of assessments. Also, another objective to use online quizzes was to test students on assigned readings in addition to lecture material. Many of these assigned readings were meant to supplement students’ basic chemistry knowledge and to help them in learning advanced environmental chemistry concepts. The instructor generated a multiple choice, online quiz for each of the three modules of the course with the help of an external online testing website, ‘ClassMarker’. Each quiz had an average of 50-60 multiple choice questions with five options. Results of the quiz were available upon completion of the quiz so that students were able to review their answers immediately.

In addition to online quizzes, the emphasis was placed on making students understand the importance of practical aspects of learning environmental chemistry. Although engineering academics have expertise in teaching and research, they often lack the complete knowledge of current industrial practices. In addition, professionals working in the field can provide first-hand evidence of the applicability of concepts taught in the class. Hence, six guest lectures from industry leaders were scheduled throughout the course to emphasize the importance of learning environmental chemistry concepts for practical applications.

The success was measured by carrying out two surveys after the course completion: first through the University’s learning management system about the effectiveness of the course instructor as an indirect measurement and the second was a direct measurement through the external online survey (with SurveyMonkey) with questions designed specifically to address the effectiveness of online quizzes and interactions with industry leaders. All respondents of the first survey agreed that the instructor stimulated their interest in the subject and presented material that assisted in their understanding of the subject. Nearly all respondents also agreed that the instructor used educational technologies that supported their learning and encouraged their engagement in the learning process. For the second survey, students felt positive about the opportunity to become more engaged with the course material, to be better prepared for class, and to learn and comprehend the course material than simply memorize it.

Padhye, L. P. (2016, June), Enhancing undergraduate student learning experience in an environmental engineering course through use of technology and industry partnership Paper presented at 2016 ASEE International Forum, New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/27244

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