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The Impact of Studio-based Learning on the Delivery of Course Information

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

New Classrooms, New Challenges II: Assessing Non-traditional Approaches

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1313.1 - 25.1313.10



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Paper Authors


Richard L. Zollars Washington State University

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Richard Zollars is a professor in and Associate Director of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at Washington State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He has been teaching engineering for 34 years. His interests are learning styles, colloidal/interfacial phenomena, and reactor design.

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Adam Scott Carter Washington State University


Christopher Hundhausen Washington State University

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Christopher Hundhausen received a B.A. in math/computer science from Lawrence University in 1991, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer and information science from the University of Oregon in 1993 and 1999. Having previously served both as a Postdoc and Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Hundhausen is presently an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University, where he directs the Human-centered Environments for Learning and Programming (HELP) Lab ( Recipient of more than $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER Award, Hundhausen applies the methods of human-computer interaction to the design and empirical evaluation of software environments and pedagogical approaches to improve learning and retention in undergraduate computing and engineering education. He is one of the leaders of two separate multi-institutional research studies of the educational impact of studio-based learning methods in computing and engineering education.

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The Impact of Studio-based Learning on the Delivery of Course InformationStudio-based learning techniques have been used in variety of disciplines, most stronglyin architecture and fine arts. In a studio-based learning experience, students learn not justby doing but also by receiving critiques on their work from other students as well asproviding critiques themselves to other students. Engineering students often do this ininformal settings (e.g., study groups) but rarely do so in a formal classroom setting. Thecritiquing activity is the strength on the learning activities in studio-based learning as itrequires students to be active as well as encouraging students to explain (teach) thematerial to others, thus strengthening their understanding of the concepts.Over the past few years a team from the chemical engineering program and the computerscience program have been working on developing a software package to aid students indeveloping their skills in the material and energy balance course in the chemicalengineering curriculum. This software package was developed to assist students inconverting written descriptions into a graphical format and then into a mathematicalrepresentation. The software includes a number of messages designed to help thestudents overcome typical errors when trying to formulate problem solutions to typicalmaterial and energy balance problems. This messaging activity in the software wasdesigned to play the role of an expert in the field who would not tell the students theanswer but would prompt them to examine what they had done that did not seem proper.The messaging component of the software has proven to increase student accuracy insolving material/energy balance problems while also increasing the carry-over of theseskills to solving problems when the messaging was not provided. We have also used thesoftware in a studio-based approach style since the software provides a common platformfor the students to use in providing/receiving critiques. Preliminary data suggests that theuse of the software, in its current form, is not optimal for use in a studio-based approach.In particular, the current messaging system provides enough guidance that the resultingcritiques lack much substance since most of the questions/difficulties have already beenaddressed. As a result the critiquing activity in the studio-based approach adds little tothe student’s understanding. It appears that the software but without the error messagingsystem activated may provide a better means for promoting discussion during critiquingperiods in a studio-based teaching approach. We are currently in the process of testingwhether student skills are increased more by using the software with the messagingturned on in a traditional teaching approach or by using the software with the messagingturn off but in a studio-based teaching approach.

Zollars, R. L., & Carter, A. S., & Hundhausen, C. (2012, June), The Impact of Studio-based Learning on the Delivery of Course Information Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22070

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