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Feedback in Complex, Authentic, Industrially Situated Engineering Projects using Episodes as a Discourse Analysis Framework – Year 2

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.603.1 - 24.603.7



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Paper Authors


Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC San Diego and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in Chemical Engineering. He currently has research activity in areas related engineering education and is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher-level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. His research interests particularly focus on what prevents students from being able to integrate and extend the knowledge developed in specific courses in the core curriculum to the more complex, authentic problems and projects they face as professionals. Dr. Koretsky is one of the founding members of the Center for Lifelong STEM Education Research at OSU.

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Erick Jacob Nefcy Oregon State University


Debra M. Gilbuena Oregon State University

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Debra Gilbuena is a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. Debra has an M.BA, an M.S, and four years of industrial experience including a position in sensor development. Sensor development is also an area in which she holds a patent. She currently has research focused on student learning in virtual laboratories and the diffusion of educational interventions and practices.

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Jaynie L. Whinnery Oregon State University

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Jaynie Whinnery is a graduate student studying Public Policy at Oregon State University. She also holds an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University. Her research in engineering education is focused on student teams engaged in the Virtual Bioreactor (VBioR) Laboratory project. She is specifically interested in understanding the student-instructor interactions and feedback that occur during this project and how these factors influence student learning.

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Feedback in Complex, Authentic, Industrially Situated Engineering Projects using Episodes as a Discourse Analysis Framework – Year 2AbstractOver the last seven years, we have developed, implemented, and studied student learning incyber-enabled learning systems. Central to each of these learning systems is a virtual reactor thatenables a team of students to develop, test, and refine solutions as they are tasked withdeveloping an optimal “recipe” for one of two virtual reactors. The two virtual reactors include:the Virtual Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) Reactor, a simulation of an industrial-scalechemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor, and the Virtual Bio Reactor, based on an industrialscale bioreactor process. These learning systems provide students a capstone experience in whichthey can apply experimental design in a context similar to that of a practicing engineer.Throughout students’ engagement with a learning system, student teams meet with an instructor,called the coach. The student-coach interactions are different from those in traditional classroomsettings. The students and coach interact in semi-structured design meetings, called coachingsessions, which mirror the structure of industrial design reviews. Students take on the role ofprocess development engineers while the coach acts as mentor and manager. We have learnedthat feedback provided by the coach during these interactions is critical to the success of thelearning systems. For effective implementation of these learning systems at other institutions,there is a need to describe the characteristics of successful feedback and the effects of thatfeedback on student learning. This poster will present the recent findings of the investigation intothe nature of the feedback provided by the coach to the student teams and the relationship of thatfeedback to the strategies students apply as they engage in the task, the models they develop, andtheir knowledge integration of material from previous courses. Specifically, the researchquestions for this stage of the study are: 1. What are the different types of feedback coaches provide and what characteristics distinguish the different types of feedback? 2. What is the relationship between coach feedback and the development of the experimental models and strategies students apply as they work to complete the assigned task?Qualitative assessment data sources include recordings of introductory lectures, coachingsessions, and final oral reports; think-aloud sessions of student teams as they work on the task;student work products, including their design notebooks, written memoranda and reports, oralreports, records of experimentation from the database; and interviews of individual students. Weuse an episodes framework to examine the characteristics of feedback during the coachingsessions. Each episode is defined by the content that is addressed (e.g., reaction kinetics), calledthe episode theme. Each theme is composed of up to four stages: surveying, probing, guiding,and confirmation. A coaching session typically contains approximately 10-20 episodes. Inaddition, we use a method called Model Maps to represent student groups’ model developmentas they complete the task. Model Maps are used to identify teams’ models and strategies and areinterpreted in terms of the guidance the team received during the coaching sessions. Thedifferences noted before and after coaching sessions are interpreted with reference to theepisodes analysis.

Koretsky, M., & Nefcy, E. J., & Gilbuena, D. M., & Whinnery, J. L. (2014, June), Feedback in Complex, Authentic, Industrially Situated Engineering Projects using Episodes as a Discourse Analysis Framework – Year 2 Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20494

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