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Use of Studio-based Learning in a Material/Energy Balance Class

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Real and Virtual - "New" Approaches to Teaching "Old" Courses

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1298.1 - 23.1298.11



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Paper Authors


Richard L. Zollars Washington State University

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Dr. 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 35 years. His interests are learning styles, colloidal/interfacial phenomena and reactor design.

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Christopher Hundhausen Washington State University

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Dr. Chris Hundhausen received the B.A. degree in Math/Computer Science from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. in 1991, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer and information science from the University of Oregon in 1993 and 1999. Recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Dr. Hundhausen is founder and director of the Human-centered Environments for Learning and Programming (HELP) Lab at Washington State University, where he's an associate professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research focuses on the general area of human-computer interaction with specific interests in computer-based visualization, end-user computing, educational technology, and computer science education. Dr. Hundhausen has established himself as an international leader in the field of algorithm visualization, which explores technology and pedagogical approaches that enhance human understanding of computer algorithms. He is also one of the leaders of a national effort, funded by the National Science Foundation CPATH and CCLI programs, to adapt studio-based instructional methods for undergraduate computing education and chemical engineering education.

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Adam Scott Carter Washington State University

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Use of Studio-based Learning in a Material/Energy Balance ClassStudio-based learning techniques have been used in variety of disciplines, most notablyin 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 of 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.A major hurdle in adopting this approach in large classes, like a material/energy balanceclass, is the lack of classroom time for such an activity. To overcome this limitation ateam from the chemical engineering program and the computer science program havebeen working on developing two software packages to allow a studio based approach inan asynchronous manner. The first of these software packages (ChemProV – ChemicalProcess Visualizer) is designed to provide a scaffolded environment in which studentscan assemble process flow diagrams in a manner similar to that used in large processsimulation packages, ASPEN, HYSYS, PRO/II, etc. Attached to each stream in theprocess flow diagram is a table containing places for students to enter a variable name,component identification, flow rate and units for every compound in the stream or toleave a “?” in the places where no value is given. Finally, there is a place for materialand energy balance equations to be developed by the students using the variable namesappearing in the stream tables. ChemProV thus provides a uniform platform for thetransfer of material/energy balance problem solutions between students.The second software package (OSBLE – On-line Studio-Based Learning Environment)provides the asynchronous communication platform to allow for the studio basedimplementation. After submitting a solution to a material/energy balance problem (usingChemProV) the solution is made available, anonymously, to other students (usually 3 –5) for comments. Students providing these critiques are not allowed to see other critiquesuntil they have posted their own to insure that the initial critiques are independent andrequire judgment by the student. Once a student has provided a critique they can see thecritiques provided by other students. This opens the second phase of the studio-basedexperience, a critical review discussion. Students are directed to compare the variouscritiques provided to look for commonalities as well as items where only one or two havecommented. Again, via an asynchronous discussion, students can add to or modify theirinitial critiques until the group has come to a consensus about the ChemProV problemsolution. All of this discussion is kept on-line and returned, anonymously, to the studentwho developed the problem initially.This approach is being used this semester in a material/energy balance class with 110students. In preparation for this implementation students in last year’s material/energybalance class worked a typical problem involving chemical reaction, recycle and energyboth at the start of the class and at the end. In this year’s class the students worked thesame problem at the start of the class and will work the same problem at the end of thesemester. The student’s solutions to both the pre- and post-class problems are gradedusing a rubric developed to ensure uniformity of scoring. In addition to the problemsolving scores students complete an attitudinal survey at both the start and end of theclass. Comparing the change in scores (post- versus pre- and surveys) from last year’sclass (control group) to this year’s class (treatment group) will allow us to assess theeffectiveness of the studio based approach in the material/energy balance class.

Zollars, R. L., & Hundhausen, C., & Carter, A. S. (2013, June), Use of Studio-based Learning in a Material/Energy Balance Class Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22683

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