San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.737.1 - 25.737.11
Implementing Problem-Solving Learning Environments in a Kinetics and Homogeneous Reactor Design CourseThe main task of a chemical engineer is to design and operate processes to transform rawmaterials into final products, particularly by the exploitation of chemical reactions at industrialscale. Reactor operation is at the heart of many chemical processes, while other unit operationsand equipment are necessary to prepare the reactants for the reactor conditions or to separate thedifferent components from the reactor effluent. For proper reactor design, chemical kinetics andreactor engineering must be considered. Chemical kinetics study chemical reaction rates, whichmust be obtained from experimental measurements; reactor engineering defines the type and sizeof the device within which the reaction occurs and its operating conditions (temperature,pressure, and the energy exchange with the surroundings) to achieve a reaction specific goal. AtABC University chemical engineering (ChE) students develop the knowledge and skills todesign and operate chemical reactors in the senior course entitled Kinetics and HomogeneousReactor Design (IQ-407), which outcomes include that students will be able to: a) determinereaction rate expressions obtained from experimental data; b) use basic concepts of kinetics,mass and energy balances, as well as principles from thermodynamics to design idealhomogeneous reactors; and c) asses and propose reactor operation conditions to achieve aspecific objective.Practicing engineers are hired, retained, and rewarded for solving problems. Thus, engineeringstudents should learn how to solve workplace problems . In general, workplace engineeringproblems are substantively different from the kinds of problems that engineering students mostoften solve in the classroom; therefore, learning to solve classroom problems does notnecessarily prepare engineering students to solve workplace problems [1, 2]. Therefore, wedesigned and implemented several problem-solving learning environments (a term thatrepresents problem-solving instruction in a more open-ended way than problem-based learning)for the IQ-407 course.Problems vary in different ways, so different kinds of problems call on different conceptions andskills [1-3]. Based on those differences among problems, different kinds of IQ-407 problemswere developed such as story problems, decision-making problems, troubleshooting, strategicperformance problems, and design problems. Since there exist different kinds of problems,which call on different skills, learning methods should also vary [2, 3]. That is why specialattention was given to the building blocks (cases) of our problem-solving learning environments(PSLEs), since the intellectual functions of cases vary and consequently they support differentkinds of problem solving [2, 3]. We will describe in detail the cognitive skills that are required tosolve the implemented problems in our PSLEs, how the practice and transfer of these cognitiveskills were applied, how we included metacognitive strategies, as well as several methods forassessing student problem-solving ability and cognitive skills that were required to solve testedproblems. The initial implementation of the PSLEs in IQ-407 was exploratory, intended toprovide formative evaluation. The primary data source was an in-depth interview with 4 of thestudents at the end of this initial implementation. Jonassen, D. H., Strobel, J., and Lee, C. B. 2006. Everyday problem solving in engineering: Lessons for engineering educators. Journal of Engineering Education, 95(2): 1–14. Jonassen, D. H. 2011. Learning to Solve Problems: A Handbook for Designing Problem- Solving Learning Environments. Routledge: New York. Jonassen, D. H. 2010. Assembling and Analyzing the Building Blocks of Problem-Based Learning Environments, in Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace, Volume One: Instructional Design and Training Delivery (K. H. Silber and W. R. Foshay, eds.), John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.
Zaira, R. A. L., & Ramirez-Corona, N., & Lopez-Malo, A., & Palou, E. (2012, June), Implementing Problem-solving Learning Environments in a Kinetics and Homogeneous Reactor Design Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21494
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