(271c) Moving from the Traditional Way to Hybrid Approach for Teaching Unit Labs | AIChE

(271c) Moving from the Traditional Way to Hybrid Approach for Teaching Unit Labs


Dua, R. - Presenter, Hampton University
The unit labs in chemical engineering offer a unique learning experience where seniors are exposed to real-world chemical processes. They get hands-on activity on laboratory scaled industrial equipment and get a better insight into chemical engineering fundamentals that they learned in their sophomore and junior years. In these labs, the students work in groups to conduct the experiment, collect and analyze data, and finally write and present their technical reports. Thus these labs helped toned students' ability to work in collaboration and improve their writing and oral skills. The problem-solving skills, which is a core competency skill for an engineering student, does not seem to be much appreciated through these unit labs. To rectify the situation and take full advantage of the unit lab in making the students' problem solvers, we taught the class in a hybrid approach mixing the traditional model of classroom instruction with the flipped classroom model over two semesters.

Each semester, students performed three unit lab experiments. Two of them were taught in a traditional way: instructor provided the background and standard operating procedures for the instrument of that particular experiment, and then the students in groups conducted the experiment under the supervision of the instructor. The third remaining experiment was taught in a flipped classroom model: each group gathers the background information about the particular laboratory they were assigned to and figured out the working of the instrument by themselves by going over the manual and concept from the book and other online resources in detail. For the first two labs, they were tested by the submission of the individual laboratory report at the end of the experiment. While for the third experiment, in addition to the complete group lab report, each group was assessed every week on building different sections of the report, including objectives and introduction, theory, materials, safety precautions, standard operating procedures, observations tables, results, discussion, and conclusion. They were provided with feedback on every section each week to make sure they are going in the right direction. Each group also makes a video, in the end, summarizing the working of their third laboratory before submitting their final group laboratory report.

Preliminary data show that the students are much more engaged and have a better understanding of the experiment that they performed using the flip-room class model. The traditional way of learning provided them a guideline on how to experiment in an organized way. In contrast, the flip room class model provided them an opportunity to successfully conduct their experiment on their own without much instructions from the instructor. Thus we recommend that both types of teaching methods are necessary to improve the overall skills of the students. The proposed hybrid teaching approach is expected to make the students more adept in following a systematic approach towards identifying and solving a problem.



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