Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Designing a Chemical Reaction Engineering Course to Teach Problem Solving

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Pedagogy

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Eric Burkholder Stanford University Orcid 16x16

author page

Francis Ledesma

author page

Julie C. Fornaciari University of California, Berkeley

Download Paper |


This work-in-progress paper (WIP) describes the conception and implementation of a course in Chemical Kinetics and Reaction Engineering that has been specifically designed to teach students authentic problem-solving skills. Recent work has characterized how experts solve authentic engineering problems in terms of the decisions that the expert makes during the problem-solving process. From this framework and research on deliberate practice, we hypothesized that students can learn authentic engineering problem-solving if they are given the opportunity to practice making these expert decisions with timely feedback from their instructors. This framework of expert decision-making and deliberate practice informed the re-design of a chemical kinetics and reaction engineering course at a highly selective public research university. We chose this course because our previous research had shown that students were not learning any authentic problem-solving between the cornerstone and capstone design courses in chemical engineering; we thus sought to transform a core chemical engineering course to better teach these authentic problem-solving skills. In this WIP paper we provide a detailed description of the course design and implementation. We also provide preliminary measurements of students’ authentic problem-solving skills before and after the course to determine how effective this particular design is for teaching authentic problem-solving. These preliminary findings can provide guidance to other chemical engineering instructors as to best practices for instructional design toward the goal of teaching authentic engineering problem-solving.

Burkholder, E., & Ledesma, F., & Fornaciari, J. C. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Designing a Chemical Reaction Engineering Course to Teach Problem Solving Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38138

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015