(464g) Authentic Assessment in Chemical Engineering Using Virtual Laboratories | AIChE

(464g) Authentic Assessment in Chemical Engineering Using Virtual Laboratories


Koretsky, M. - Presenter, Oregon State University
This paper describes two case studies where technology-based virtual laboratories have been used to provide a tool for the authentic assessment of students. Authentic assessment uses real-world tasks that mirror the work required of professionals - in our case chemical engineers. This type of assessment requires students to engage in the type of reasoning and problem solving needed in the field. Thus, students must demonstrate deep understanding, higher-order thinking, and complex problem solving. Importantly, authentic interactions should also mirror the social interactions of engineering practice. Problems should be realistic, partly ill-defined (requiring the students to frame the problem), and complex with multiple solution paths possible. The work should be collaborative with students working on groups and other students’ perspectives proving valuable resources.

I report on two instantiations of authentic engineering tasks mediated by a virtual reactor – one a fixed time two-hour exam and another an open-ended three- week project. I describe how these assessments align with the legitimate ways that knowledge is used in the profession. With this type of assessment, student teams can be evaluated on the performance of their engineering design, the accuracy that they report their findings, the quality of their writing, and the social interactions with their teammates – all facets of real engineering work. I will also briefly describe student reactions to this type of assessment and how it fit as instructional practice shifted to remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.