June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Intersdisciplinary Courses and Environmental Undergraduate Research
12.1083.1 - 12.1083.12
MULTI-CAMPUS DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF PROBLEM-BASED-LEARNING COURSES IN ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING
The project described here began with a civil engineering and biology laboratory research collaboration that ultimately led to educational research about course development and pedagogy. The laboratory research was centered on genetically engineered organisms for contaminant tracking, and it soon became apparent that neither students from civil engineering nor biology had the requisite backgrounds to work on this type of project without some supplementary tutoring. As a result, a team-taught environmental biotechnology (EB) course was piloted that was cross-listed between the two departments, and although it was satisfactory, it suffered some deficiencies because it was difficult to find the right content balance between the two disciplines.
At about the same time, two sister institutions were also expanding their biotechnology offerings. North Carolina State University had just hired a new civil engineer with expertise in molecular biology who was developing new courses; and at UNC-Pembroke, a variety of bioprocess equipment had been donated, leading to interest there in designing a new biotechnology curriculum track. As we tweaked our course design, there was a sense that efforts were being duplicated and that there was a missed opportunity to capitalize on the collective expertise of the faculty at each institution. Further, there was a realization that the phenomenon of simultaneous development of similar courses at sister campuses in response to emerging disciplines likely was being played out in many other multi-campus university systems.
Thus began a collaboration among civil engineering, biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, and education faculty at various University of North Carolina (UNC) campuses to design a single environmental biotechnology course template that would (a) incorporate the most current and effective learning paradigms; (b) be readily adaptable to a variety of settings within a single university system; and (c) would receive buy- in to both the curriculum and instructional methods from diverse faculty within those settings. The science educator recommended the use of student-centered learning methods (SCLM), which have received a great deal of focused promotion because of their perceived value among educators but are still not used widely or well among science and engineering faculty1. These methods typically involve student group information gathering and problem solving and have been shown to promote improved investigatory and critical thinking skills and to prepare students for the more team-based interdisciplinary nature of the work environment2,3,4.
Upon obtaining support from the federal Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), a three-year research program was mapped out. The specific research objectives, the results from Year 1 and some lessons learned are described below.
The research objectives were to:
1. Use the combined expertise of education, biology, and engineering faculty and graduate students to implement open-ended inquiry through problem-based learning (PBL) as the instructional strategy in a series of environmental biotechnology courses;
Hilger, H., & De Los Reyes, F., & DiBiase, W., & Holmes, L., & Luster-Teasley, S., & Mandjiny, S., & Steck, T., & Schimmel, K., & Wang, C. (2007, June), Multi Campus Design And Implementation Of Problem Based Learning Courses In Environmental Biotechnology With Interdisciplinary Learning Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1513
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