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The Paperless Lab – Streamlining a Modern Unit Operations Laboratory Course to Reduce Faculty Time Commitment

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Improving Laboratory Education in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1236.1 - 24.1236.13



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Paper Authors


Matthew Cooper North Carolina State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Matthew Cooper is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. He was born in Elkins, W.Va. and received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from West Virginia University. Following a position as an oilfield engineer with Schlumberger, Dr. Cooper received his MS and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University. Upon completion of graduate studies in 2008, Dr. Cooper moved to the Raleigh, NC area to serve as a research chemical engineer for RTI International, focusing on the development of novel technologies for the energy sector. Dr. Cooper joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University in 2011, where he currently teaches the Unit Operations I and II laboratory sequence, Material and Energy Balances, Transport Phenomena and Mathematical / Computational Methods. He is the recipient of the 2014 NCSU Outstanding Teacher Award and the 2014 ASEE Southeastern Section Outstanding New Teacher Award, as well as the 2013 Joseph J. Martin Award from the ASEE Chemical Engineering Division; he also currently serves as the ASEE ChE division’s newsletter editor. Dr. Cooper’s research interests include effective teaching, conceptual and inductive learning, integrating writing and speaking into the curriculum, and professional ethics.

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The Paperless Lab – Streamlining a Modern Unit Operations Laboratory CourseUnit Operations (UO) courses are challenging for instructors from both course management andgrading perspectives. Myriad time-consuming and (at times) frustrating tasks are required of theUO instructor, including assigning student teams, providing students with pre-lab information,grading reports, and assessing peer evaluation results. Similarly, UO students are often frustratedwith the need to wait for instructor assistance with laboratory preparation, uncomfortablyspending class time on peer evaluations while sitting next to the very teammates they’reevaluating, etc.This paper presents a critical evaluation of various efforts to streamline the execution of a large(n = ~100) ChE UO course, with the goal of saving time and frustration for both instructors andstudents. A number of modern time-saving measures are presented and evaluated, includingpaperless laboratory report submission and grading, custom videos for student laboratorypreparation, and use of online team management software for assignment and peer evaluation ofstudent groups. Each measure is critically evaluated based on monetary cost, amount of timesaved for the instructor, and student feedback.Request “Regular” ASEE Session

Cooper, M. (2014, June), The Paperless Lab – Streamlining a Modern Unit Operations Laboratory Course to Reduce Faculty Time Commitment Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23169

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