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Flipping the Chemical Engineering Process Control Class with e-Lessons

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Novel Pedagogical Techniques I: Online, Electronic, and Apps!

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Thomas E. Marlin McMaster University

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Tom Marlin joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, as NSERC Research Professor in Industrial Process Control in 1988. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 1972; then, he practiced engineering for 15 years in the chemical and petroleum industries. In 1987, he served as the Visiting Fellow, for the Warren Centre Study located at the University of Sydney, Australia. During the one-year project, a team of over 40 academics and practitioners investigated methods for quantifying benefits from automation; the results of this project were published in an ISA book. From 1988-2007, Dr. Marlin served as director of the McMaster Advanced Control Consortium (MACC), which develops relevant research through collaboration among university researchers and numerous companies. After retirement in 2008, he has continued to teach university courses in process control. He maintains the WEB site, which contains learning materials for process control and design, including his textbook and supporting e-Lessons. Dr. Marlin’s research interests focus on improved dynamic performance of dynamic systems through real-time operations optimization and process control design.

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Blended learning, with student learning distributed between face-to-face and digitally mediated activities, is gaining acceptance in higher education. In this study, the flipped class approach to education has been applied to an upper-level core chemical engineering course, Process Control. Project goals include improved student learning and low development cost. The e-Lessons are provided for asynchronous, self-paced learning before each class. Each e-Lesson includes high-quality visual representations, student control of progression through the lesson, theory and industrial applications, integrated and solved exercises, and a concluding quiz. To capitalize on the flipped class, the class time activities were re-designed to concentrate on problem-solving through active learning workshops. Typically, these workshops cover both typical “assignment problems” and more realistic (and complex) problems typical of engineering practice; solutions are posted after each workshop.

Post-course evaluation was performed through (a) a survey, (b) a course evaluation, and (c) comparison with previous courses. Results showed that the flipped-class students’ examination scores were not significantly improved and that students reported substantial increase in satisfaction. In addition, student feedback gives useful guidance for e-Lesson and flipped class design. Consideration of the “Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education” proposed by Chickering and Gamson (1987) showed major improvements are in (1) student-faculty contact, (3) active learning, (4) prompt feedback, and (5) time on task. When considering Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning (1956), the e-Lessons facilitate the acquisition of knowledge (the lower steps in the taxonomy), which enabled the course to progress much deeper into advanced topics, i.e., control design and safety issues. The paper describes the tools used to develop this high-quality e-Learning resource. The total hardware and software cost was under $500, and the software conversion to html5 required the “push of a button”; if an instructor can prepare PowerPoint slides, she/he can build WEB-based e-Lessons. All e-Lessons developed in this study are available on the WEB along with a sample course outline, class workshops, a textbook, quizzes, solved tutorial problems and extensive reference materials at http:// {removed for review}. Therefore, the entire results of this study are available to all students and instructors for use in their courses without fee or password.

Marlin, T. E. (2017, June), Flipping the Chemical Engineering Process Control Class with e-Lessons Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28371

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