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Student Use Of Instructional Technology In The Introductory Chemical Engineering Course

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.564.1 - 5.564.7

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Paper Authors

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Jan Genzer

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Amy Michel

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Hugh Fuller

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Richard Felder

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2313


After two decades of largely unfulfilled promise, computers have finally begun to play a significant role in higher education beyond functioning as high-tech typewriters and calculators. In the chemical engineering curriculum, courses have been able to incorporate increasingly complex and realistic examples through the use of spreadsheets, mathematical and process simulation software, multimedia courseware, and resources available through the World Wide Web.

Well-designed instructional technology can facilitate learning in ways that cannot be achieved in a traditional classroom setting. A good courseware package can provide a high level of both visual and verbal presentation of material, as opposed to the overwhelming verbal content of most lectures. It can also provide customized mentoring, enabling students to take an active role in the learning experience by calling on them to answer questions, solve problems, and explore what-if scenarios through the use of simulations. Perhaps most importantly, it can give the students immediate positive or corrective feedback on their responses to questions or solutions to problems in a completely non-threatening or potentially embarrassing manner.

While the potential of computer-assisted instruction to enhance learning is unarguable, rigorous demonstrations of its true effectiveness are in short supply, and the results of most studies that have been carried out have not been conclusive. For example, a group at Purdue University evaluated the use of computer-simulation experiments in a senior-level chemical engineering course.1 They found that the computer-simulated experiments led to better learning for some students, while others got more out of a traditional lab experiment. The authors caution against using instructional technology without evaluating its effectiveness.

The effectiveness of any instructional software for a given student depends on a variety of factors, including the quality of the software, the student’s learning style and comfort level with technology, and—perhaps most important—how and how much the student uses the software. The purpose of this paper is to examine how students in a chemical engineering class used a new instructional software package that came with their textbook and how they evaluated the helpfulness of the different components of the package.

Description of the study

The introductory chemical engineering course at North Carolina State University (CHE 205 – Chemical Process Principles) is normally taken in the first semester of the sophomore year. It covers basic engineering calculations, material and energy balances on non-reactive and reactive chemical processes, equations of state for ideal and non-ideal gases, and elementary phase

Genzer, J., & Michel, A., & Fuller, H., & Felder, R. (2000, June), Student Use Of Instructional Technology In The Introductory Chemical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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