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Teaching Experimental Design Using Virtual Laboratories: Development, Implementation And Assessment Of The Virtual Bioreactor Laboratory

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

New Ideas for ChEs I (aka ChE Potpourri)

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1165.1 - 13.1165.15



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Paper Authors


Christine Kelly Oregon State University

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Christine Kelly is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. She currently has research activity in biological production and use of ligninolytic enzymes in biomass deconstruction for bioproducts and biofuels manufacture. She also has interests in developing tools to promote the use of higher cognitive skills in engineering coursework. Dr. Kelly recently earned OSU's Austin-Paul Engineering FacultyAward for mentoring students.

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Edith Gummer Northwest Regional Education Laboratory

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Edith Gummer is the Director of the Classroom-Focused Research and Evaluation Program for the Center for Classroom Teaching and Learning at the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. She coordinated the structure of the research design and the data collection and analysis processes of the project. She has been faculty in science and mathematics education quantitative and qualitative research design courses at the doctoral level. She has been involved in the development of innovative mathematics curricular activities and formative assessment in mathematics problem solving.

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Philip Harding Oregon State University

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Philip Harding holds the Linus Pauling Chair in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering and is responsible for the development of a 3-term senior lab sequence for those disciplines. Dr. Harding has 15 years of professional experience in the oil, pulp and paper, and microelectronics industries and holds several patents. His primary objective is to prepare students for the workforce by providing them context for applying their technical training, developing their written and oral communication skills, and building leadership and teamwork skills.

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Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He currently has research activity in areas related to thin film materials processing and engineering education. He is interested in integrating technology into effective education practices and in promoting the use of higher level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. Dr. Koretsky is a six-time Intel Faculty Fellow and has won awards for his work in engineering education at the university and national levels.

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

Teaching Experimental Design using Virtual Laboratories: Development, Implementation and Assessment of the Virtual Bioreactor Laboratory

Abstract Presently there is a need to develop more effective ways to integrate experimental design into the engineering curriculum. To address this need, we are developing virtual laboratories that provide students a capstone experience in which they can apply experimental design in a context similar to that of a practicing engineer in industry. In a virtual laboratory, simulations based on mathematical models implemented on a computer are used to replace the physical laboratory. However, as opposed to being constructed as a direct one-to-one replacement, the virtual laboratory is intended to complement the physical laboratories in the curriculum so that certain specific elements of the experimental design process are addressed. We have previously reported on the Virtual CVD Laboratory, a simulation of an industrial-scale chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor. Analogously to the Virtual CVD laboratory, a Virtual Bioreactor laboratory has been developed based on an industrial scale bioreactor process. The development, implementation and assessment of the Virtual Bioreactor in the senior laboratory in Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering are discussed. Analysis of student surveys was undertaken to exam student metacognition of the virtual laboratory and compare their ideas of learning to the physical laboratories in the same course. Analysis shows that the experimental design, critical thinking and higher order cognition that are promoted in the Virtual CVD laboratory are manifest in the metacognitive statements of students in the Virtual BioR Laboratory. Both virtual laboratories are available for use upon request.

Introduction In a typical laboratory class, students are tasked with taking a set of experimental measurements, analyzing the data, often in the context of underlying theory in the curriculum, and reporting the findings. This work is performed using dedicated equipment physically located in the laboratory. The pedagogical value of the hands-on experience that a laboratory provides is ubiquitously endorsed by educators;1 however, in practice the engineering laboratory has limitations as well. The traditional mode of delivery requires large amounts of resources for a high quality student experience since students must be supervised and equipment is expensive to purchase and maintain. Moreover, versatile laboratory experiences are needed that can accommodate students enrolled via distance education. Virtual laboratories can overcome these limitations. In a virtual laboratory, students do not interact with real equipment, but rather with use computer simulations of laboratory equipment to obtain data. The virtual laboratory allows future engineers to practice the skills they will need in industry, in much the same way a flight simulator is used for training pilots.

Various uses of virtual laboratories in the engineering curricula have been reported.2-7 The most extensive deployment of virtual laboratories of chemical processes is an impressive set of modules developed at Purdue University. Seven different laboratories based on traditional

Kelly, C., & Gummer, E., & Harding, P., & Koretsky, M. (2008, June), Teaching Experimental Design Using Virtual Laboratories: Development, Implementation And Assessment Of The Virtual Bioreactor Laboratory Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4205

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