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Improvements in Computational Methods Courses in Chemical Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

ChemE Potpourri

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.742.1 - 25.742.10



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Paper Authors


Joshua A. Enszer University of Maryland Baltimore County

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Joshua Enszer is a full-time lecturer in chemical engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has taught core and elective courses across the curriculum, from introduction to engineering science and material and energy balances to process control and modeling of chemical and environmental systems. His research interests include technology and learning in various incarnations: electronic portfolios as a means for assessment and professional development, implementation of computational tools across the chemical engineering curriculum, and game-based learning.

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Victoria E. Goodrich University of Notre Dame

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Rachel B. Getman Clemson University

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Improvements in Computational Methods Courses in Chemical EngineeringAs more core courses in the undergraduate curriculum require significant ability using modernprogramming tools, we see a need for improved methods of instruction in computer methodscourses required in the chemical engineering curriculum. It is important to provide students witha series of approaches and activities that ensure (1) that students are applying algorithmicthinking and not just learning how to operate in a single computing environment, (2) thatstudents are able to develop their abilities to formulate problems in a computational context, and(3) that students are applying numerical algorithms in meaningful ways and not just following atemplate. To that end, we have implemented changes in our home institutions, have plannedupcoming changes for the 2012 spring semester, and have formulated a plan to share resultsamong our universities. Some of these changes include  Deliberately selecting course spaces that allow for a fluid transition from lecture- to lab- and learning center-like activities within a single class period,  Restructuring course time when flexible classroom space is not available to provide lecture and laboratory time that increases “just in time teaching” approaches,  Taking a project-based focus so students are actively applying numerical techniques in authentic, meaningful contexts from day one, and  Integrating numerical methods into a course on more general chemical engineering problem solving and experimental design.Where available, we show some results from direct assessment of student proficiencies incourses where changes have already been implemented. We also share here our plans to evaluatestudent abilities in courses following computer methods to assess the effectiveness of thesechanges. Some of these plans have already been implemented and some have begun in the 2011-2012 academic year:  Student self-assessment of perceived engineering ability before and after their computer methods course  Instructor assessment of student abilities as displayed through exams and projects during the computer methods course  Instructor assessment of student work on computational problems in courses outside computer methodsWe will share results from preliminary self-assessment surveys. Other assessment methods arecurrently in progress.While we recognize this is currently work in progress, we would be happy to be part of apresentation/discussion if the division deems it appropriate.

Enszer, J. A., & Goodrich, V. E., & Getman, R. B. (2012, June), Improvements in Computational Methods Courses in Chemical Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21499

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