June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.862.1 - 13.862.14
Making the Connections: Facilitating Student Integration of Chemical Engineering Concepts into a Coherent Framework Abstract
One of the greatest challenges an instructor faces is helping his/her students to see the connections between material being covered in a particular class and that covered in previous courses or courses being taken concurrently. Opportunities exist within most engineering curricula to facilitate a student’s ability to integrate the bits and pieces of knowledge they gain in one class with their existing knowledge base. Helping students to connect subject matter in one course to familiar concepts from fluids, thermodynamics, heat transfer, mass transfer, kinetics, and process control as well as from the foundation courses in mathematics, physics and chemistry can aid students in establishing their operational framework and improving their problem solving skills [Haile, 2000]. Through connecters placed throughout the prerequisite courses, instructors can facilitate student integration of material from different courses and important underlying concepts into a coherent framework. The presentation of these underlying concepts in different courses may be of a nature that masks their true connection to one another, thereby inhibiting the ability of students to connect and integrate a seemingly new concept into their knowledge base. In this paper, opportunities are presented where concept integration may be especially beneficial.
In “The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking”, Elder and Paul  define eight “Elements of Thought”: • Purpose • Point of View • Question at Issue • Information • Concepts • Assumptions • Interpretation and Inference • Implications and Consequences
These elements are utilized by practicing engineers in their daily endeavors and allow them to successfully navigate technological challenges. The engineer must be able to draw on his/her knowledge base to arrive at a solution. How effectively that individual’s ideas or concepts within that knowledge base are connected is essential to the engineer’s ability to take these, make assumptions and inferences specific to a particular problem, and then generate a solution along with potential implications. The engineering student does not necessarily enter an undergraduate program with this innate ability; rather, it must be developed, through acquisition of knowledge of their chosen field, and through establishment of the interconnections and relationships of elements in their developing knowledge base.
Efforts to improve the conceptual understanding and concept integration abilities of undergraduate students have been the focus of substantial research during past years. For
Toghiani, R., & Minerick, A., & Walters, K. (2008, June), Making The Connections: Facilitating Student Integration Of Chemical Engineering Concepts Into A Coherent Framework Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4210
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