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Instructional Videos with Purpose: Compensate, Support, and Challenge Chemical Engineering Students in an Introductory Thermodynamics Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

SPECIAL SESSION: Educational Methods and Tools to Encourage Conceptual Learning I

Tagged Divisions

Chemical Engineering and Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.891.1 - 22.891.11



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Paper Authors


Dan Cernusca Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Dr. Dan Cernusca is Instructional Design Specialist in the Department of Global Learning at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies in 2007 from University of Missouri, Columbia. He also holds a B.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Sibiu, Romania with a specialization in manufacturing technologies and respectively cutting-tools design. His research interests include Design-Based Research in technology-enabled learning contexts, technology-mediated problem solving, applications of dynamic modeling for learning of complex topics, and the impact of epistemic beliefs on learning with technology.

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Daniel Forciniti Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Dr. Daniel Forciniti is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1991 from North Carolina State University. He also holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of the South (Argentina). His research interest is the application of statistical mechanics to biological systems and the use of scattering techniques for the study of biomacromolecules in solution and at interfaces. He has taught Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics for nearly twenty years.

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Instructional Videos with Purpose: Compensate, Support and Challenge Chemical Engineering Students in an Introductory Thermodynamics CourseOne of the challenges that was, it is and certainly will still be faced by the instructor is that of addressingthe relatively large spectrum of student needs without losing the lagers and boring the high achievers.Technology-driven instructional tools were proved useful in addressing this challenge but novelty of thesetools as well as the contextual character of the instructional process place additional burdens on theinstructor. The availability of easy-to-use video capture and video editing technology combined withincreased capability to make these videos available online made small educational videos (often called“courselets”) useful tools for instructors interested in expanding their classroom activities beyond thelecture time (e.g. Copley, 2007, Lawson, Bodle & McDonough, 2007). This paper introduces such anattempt for an undergraduate introductory thermodynamics course offered for chemical engineeringstudents.The synergy between the perspective of an Instructional Designer and the teaching and professionalexperience of the Instructor of this course supported the three major factors that made this experimentsuccessful. To help students engage in activities specific to chemical engineers we used the frameworkproposed by the cognitive apprenticeship model (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989) model, coach and fadesupport offered to students. We produced a series of videos that provided additional out-of-classroomsupport to: a) model thermodynamics thinking in context, b) coach the full understanding of exemplaryproblems, and c) engage students in more challenging transfer tasks with faded instructional support.The paper presents specific technical and organizational strategies to develop small (about 8 to 10minutes) instructional videos that addressed each of the above-mentioned stages. For example, a set ofvideos provided students with compensatory support for prior knowledge in calculus by introducing thetarget knowledge in a worked example appropriate for the content introduced in the beginning of theclass. Another set of videos provided additional coaching support for complex worked examplesintroduced in the classroom while a final set of videos challenges students to explore new applications ofthermodynamics using snapshots of a laboratory experiment as the starting point. For each of these videoswe also present specific instructional tasks used to engage students in meaningful learning. Strengths andweaknesses of these strategies are then discussed both from their impact on students’ learning and oninstructor’s commitment.Finally we present and exploratory qualitative analysis to evaluate the impact of these instructional videoswith purpose both from students and instructor’s perspectives. A series of open-ended reflective questionswere developed and administered to students both at the midterm and at the end of the course. Analysis ofstudents’ answers indicated an overall positive perception while some students provided valuablesuggestions both for future improvements of current videos and for topics of interest for future similarinstructional videos.Brown, J.S., Colling, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.Copley, J. (2007). Audio and Video Podcasts of Lectures for Campus-Based Students: Production and Evaluation of Student Use. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(4), 387-399.Lawson, T.J., Bodle, J.H. & McDonough, T.A. (2007). Techniques for Increasing Student Learning From Educational Videos: Notes Versus Guiding Questions, Teaching of Psychology, 34(2), 90-93.

Cernusca, D., & Forciniti, D. (2011, June), Instructional Videos with Purpose: Compensate, Support, and Challenge Chemical Engineering Students in an Introductory Thermodynamics Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18196

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