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The Use Of Conference Preparatory Principles And Practices (Writing And Presentation Skills) To Teach Interdisciplinary Laboratory Courses

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

BME Laboratory and Project Experiences

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1259.1 - 15.1259.20



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Paper Authors

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Estefania Alvarez Clemson University

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Steven Saville Clemson University

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O. Thompson Mefford Clemson University

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John DesJardins Clemson University

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

The Use Of Conference Preparatory Principles And Practices (Writing And Presentation Skills) To Teach Interdisciplinary Laboratory Courses

Abstract This paper examines the application of conference preparatory principles and practices to teach materials science through the incorporation of „conference style writing‟ as a teaching tool into an introductory multidisciplinary (Bioengineering and Materials Science) laboratory course. The goal of this work was to evaluate the use of “conference style” abstracts, oral presentations and poster presentations to teach undergraduate laboratories, and evaluate the students perceived value of these tools and skills in their future engineering careers. A 1 credit (3 hours per week for 16 weeks) materials science laboratory was used to instruct 7 materials science laboratories using pre-lab conference skills tutorials, pre-lab content quizzes, individual student 1 page abstract submissions, team conference presentations and final team poster presentations. The results of this work show that students can adopt and improve their conference abstract writing skills, and by the end of the course the students recognized that this new „format‟ for this inquiry based class was beneficial for their engineering career. A positive feedback from the students suggests the transformative power of this writing style in not only learning how to effectively summarize a laboratory experiment, its results, and discussion, but it has also allowed them to develop material selection (based on their mechanical properties) skills for a specific bioengineering applications. The positive feedback goes hand in hand with the statistical analysis of the evaluations of the students‟ writing at the beginning and at the end of the course. Statistical analysis demonstrated that 44% of the students increased 10% in a letter grade or more from the start till the end of the course. Overall, the re-design of a traditional laboratory course has proven to be beneficial for students in both majors not only for their academic development but also to prepare them for future professional opportunities.


Background Materials Science has been defined as a discipline that combines the relationships between the structure, properties, processing and performance of materials combined with engineering theory, laboratory practice and societal awareness.1 Therefore, there is a need to correlate the theoretical concepts learned an introductory undergraduate course with the actual use of these materials in laboratories and in real-world engineering applications. Introduction to Materials Science (CME210, and its associated laboratory, CME241L) are core sophomore courses in the curriculum of Bioengineering, Materials Science and Chemical Engineering undergraduates. As a multi-disciplinary class, these courses are often taught to large numbers of students, with different majors, and many cases, the associated laboratory sections are composed of truly 1

Alvarez, E., & Saville, S., & Mefford, O. T., & DesJardins, J. (2010, June), The Use Of Conference Preparatory Principles And Practices (Writing And Presentation Skills) To Teach Interdisciplinary Laboratory Courses Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16632

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