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Implementation of Real-world Class Activities in an Introduction to Environmental Engineering Class

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Innovative Approaches to Improving Student Learning

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

9

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34775

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34775

Download Count

13

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Paper Authors

biography

Cara J. Poor University of Portland

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Dr. Poor teaches many of the integral undergraduate civil engineering courses at University of Portland, including hydraulics, fluids, and environmental engineering. Dr. Poor is a licensed professional engineer with ongoing research in green infrastructure design, water quality, watershed management, and engineering education. She is currently developing new curricula for hydraulics, fluids, and environmental engineering labs, and conducting research on methods to improve conceptual understanding and critical thinking.

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Heather Dillon University of Portland Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4467-2306

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Dr. Heather Dillon is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Portland. Her research team is working on energy efficiency, renewable energy, fundamental heat transfer, and engineering education. Before joining the university, Heather Dillon worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as a senior research engineer.

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Jeffrey Matthew Welch University of Portland Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4072-7186

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Jeff Welch is a doctoral student in educational leadership at the University of Portland (Oregon, USA).

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Nicole C. Ralston University of Portland

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Dr. Nicole Ralston is an Assistant Professor and co-Director of the Multnomah County Partnership for Education Research (MCPER) in the School of Education at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Measurement, Statistics, and Research Design from the University of Washington. An elementary school teacher at heart, she now teaches educational research and STEM methods to undergraduate and graduate students. Her research focus involves bringing active learning strategies to STEM, best practices of research-practice partnerships, and applied research in partnership.

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Abstract

In traditional introduction to environmental engineering classes, students commonly do book problems and never see applications to real problems such as lack of access to clean water in developing countries or algal blooms. This leaves a disconnect between what they learn in class and what they see in the news. To improve the connection between equations learned in class and real-world problems, two class activities were developed: 1) Access to Clean Drinking Water and 2) Low Oxygen Levels in the Santiam River. During both activities, students had to determine what information they needed, find that information on the internet, evaluate conditions, and determine solutions. Students completed the majority of the assignment in class, summarized results in a technical memorandum written outside of class, and reported their results at the beginning of the next class period. Students were then asked to evaluate how well the activities improved their ability to:

1. Identify and evaluate sources of information 2. Connect life experiences with course content 3. Identify real world engineering opportunities and constraints 4. Identify links between course knowledge and real world systems

Students were asked to evaluate whether or not they agreed with each of the above statements on a Likert scale, where a score of 1 was “not at all” and a score of 5 was “to a great extent.” Results indicate the majority of students believed the activities helped them identify real world engineering opportunities and constraints (4.57) and identify links between course knowledge and real world systems (4.64). Although not as strong of a response, students also thought the activities helped them identify and evaluate sources of information (3.61) and connect life experiences with course content (3.91). These results indicate that the two class activities helped students make the connection between what they learn in class and real-world problems.

Poor, C. J., & Dillon, H., & Welch, J. M., & Ralston, N. C. (2020, June), Implementation of Real-world Class Activities in an Introduction to Environmental Engineering Class Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34775

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