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Putting Course Design Principles to Practice: Creation of an Elective on Vaccines and Immunoengineering

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Course Design, Course Projects, and Student Perceptions in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Joshua A Enszer University of Delaware

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Joshua Enszer is an associate professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has taught core and elective courses across the curriculum, from introduction to engineering science and material and energy balances to process control, capstone design, and mathematical 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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Catherine A Fromen University of Delaware

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Catherine Fromen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. She received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University in 2014 and performed postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan as a University of Michigan’s President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined the University of Delaware in 2017, where her research group focuses on applying chemical engineering principles to pulmonary drug delivery. Major research efforts in the group involve designing polymeric, degradable therapeutic pulmonary aerosols for immune engineering and creating 3D-printed lung replicas to advance in vitro deposition testing.

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At our university, most assistant professors are expected to develop and deliver a new senior/graduate-level elective course related to their research. We present here a collaboration between a non-tenure-track, teaching-focused associate professor and a new tenure-track assistant professor to design a course using principles from the literature. With the goal to generate new learning experiences at the graduate elective level, a course on “Vaccines and Immunoengineering” was developed via principles of backwards design, significant learning experiences, and team-based learning. In the months leading up to the delivery of the course, we met regularly to review educational literature and implement findings in the development of the rubric, topic outline, and class activities.

To design the structure of the course, first a list of course learning goals was developed. Bloom’s taxonomy in the cognitive domain was used as the primary guideline to ensure that different levels of learning were incorporated and that learning goals were measurable. Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning was used to add additional goals in the affective domain. This systematic course design approach was found by the new assistant professor to be not only straightforward, but empowered her to design a course focused on integrating significant learning experience a priori, rather than as an afterthought (an extra burden).

Approximately two months before the course began, the professors discovered that the course was overenrolled due to an error in our university’s scheduling system. To compensate for the fact that nearly 40 students (roughly half the size of the entire senior undergraduate class) were registered for the first offering of this elective, with no graduate teaching assistant support, principles of team-based learning were applied. The major projects of the course were completed in groups, but to hold individuals accountable, every student wrote a weekly reflection on their personal progress and learning. At the end of the semester, in lieu of a final exam, each student submitted a 10-15 page learning portfolio in which they wrote a narrative and included curated examples of the work they completed during the term. Each assessed element of the course was directly mapped to one of the course learning goals explicitly on the syllabus.

In this paper, we provide key assignment and assessment documentation associated with the course and discuss how these elements connect to the literature on education. In next offering of the course, the pace of the course will be adjusted and more guidance will be provided on reading assignments.

Enszer, J. A., & Fromen, C. A. (2020, June), Putting Course Design Principles to Practice: Creation of an Elective on Vaccines and Immunoengineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35112

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