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Evaluating a new second-year introduction to chemical engineering design course using concept mapping

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Chemical Engineering in the Sophomore Year

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Matheus Oliveira Cassol University of British Columbia, Vancouver Orcid 16x16

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Matheus is an undergraduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at The University of British Columbia. His work focuses on improving engineering education using technology and innovative analysis methods. Matheus’ goal is to follow a research career, using engineering knowledge to move society towards a greener future.

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Jonathan Verrett P.Eng. University of British Columbia, Vancouver Orcid 16x16

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Jonathan Verrett is an Instructor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He teaches a variety of topics with a focus on design in chemical and biological engineering. His pedagogical interests include open education, peer-learning and leadership development.

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In recent years engineering curricula have had a renewed focus on engineering design. At the University of British Columbia undergraduate students have a general first year and then apply to engineering majors for their second-year of study. In the first-year engineering program, there is a two-course sequence where students are introduced to general engineering design. This is done through a variety of case studies in modules lasting 3 to 4 weeks.

The Chemical and Biological Engineering Department through consultations with stakeholders such as students, faculty, alumni and industry saw a need to integrate more engineering design practice into the second and third years of the undergraduate programs it offers. Based on this, the department has introduced a series of two new second-year undergraduate courses introducing engineering science fundamentals and design. These courses integrate some content from courses they replace while also introducing new content, specifically around engineering design. The new second-year courses build on student design experiences from first-year while introducing students to more discipline-specific design processes. The first course in this series focuses on chemical engineering and the second course on biological engineering. This current research focuses on the impact of the first course in this series.

Concept maps have been shown to be a powerful and flexible way of assessing student learning. They have been implemented in a wide variety of contexts such as in design and conceptual knowledge assessment. Students were asked to create a concept map for chemical engineering at the start (pre) and end (post) of the course outlining the 10-20 most important concepts in chemical and biological engineering and how they are related. Students completed this exercise using a concept mapping tool (CmapTools). These responses were then analyzed using a thematic analysis. Results from this were used to compare common themes in class responses at the start and end of the course. It was found that students at the end of the course converged on five particular topics which were focus areas in the newly implemented design course, suggesting an effective teaching practice. A shift in themes was seen from scientific topics (eg. organic chemistry, math) to engineering science or design topics (material balances, energy balances, process control, etc), which can be explained by the gain in familiarity with the field.

Oliveira Cassol, M., & Verrett, J. (2020, June), Evaluating a new second-year introduction to chemical engineering design course using concept mapping Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34593

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