(247a) Textbooks Are So Twentieth Century | AIChE

(247a) Textbooks Are So Twentieth Century


Lund, C. - Presenter, State University of New York-Buffalo

National statistics show that lecturing predominates as the instructional method in engineering education even though research shows other methods to be more effective and even while professional and governmental bodies proclaim the need for changes in engineering education. One premise underlying the project described here is that many faculty would adopt more effective teaching methods if doing so took no more of their time than teaching by lecturing and was equally ?comfortable.? Textbooks in use today do not provide the resources necessary for meeting these requirements. While many, many teaching resources are available, instructors must find them, figure out how to use them, modify them to fit their course, and implement them in their class. These activities are time-consuming and may still leave the instructor uncertain as to how to work the activity into their class (which in turn causes discomfort or anxiety when they teach).

The present project addresses this situation by developing a new kind of teaching resource that goes beyond the present-day textbook. Using the acronym TExT (Toolkit for Exceptional Teaching), it provides three important components. First, it provides all the materials found in a current-day textbook, including written presentation of the technical subject matter, illustrative example problems and unsolved problems that can be used as homework assignments. Second, it provides video files that essentially present ?lectures? for the entire course. These are intended for use by the students prior to coming to class. Two important aspects of these videos are (a) that the professor need not feel guilty for not lecturing in class because the students still get a lecture, and (b) that by assigning students to watch the videos prior to class, class time can then be put to more effective use. The third important component of the TExT is a complete set of in-class learning activities for the teacher to choose from and use in class.

The learning activities are varied in type and style. They include activities such as object lessons, ?one-minute? papers, explore and learn activities (sometimes using provided simulators), three slide presentations, group or individual problem solving, brainstorming sessions, contests, debates and panel discussions. Each activity includes a list of necessary resources, a detailed lesson plan, slides and other visuals, and tips on conducting the activity. The instructor does not need to locate the activity online or elsewhere, it is already presented using nomenclature consistent with all other parts of the TExT, and there isn't any additional pre-requisite knowledge that will need to be presented in order to use it.

A TExT has been developed for teaching undergraduate kinetics and reaction engineering. The use of the TExT will be described, and examples of the different kinds of learning activities will be presented. Initial assessment results related to student learning when using the TExT will also be presented. However, the primary reason for creating this TExT is to test a few hypotheses related to how to effect a change in the methods used in engineering education. The following are among the hypotheses that will be tested using this TExT: that an instructor would be able to implement active learning via the resources supplied with the TExT without investing significantly more time than would be invested in teaching via the traditional lecture, that by providing lesson plans and teaching instructions for each learning activity, an instructor without an education background or prior experience involving active learning, will be able to implement active learning effectively (i. e. so that student learning improves relative to the situation where the same instructor used traditional lectures) and that engineering instructors who currently teach using conventional lectures will be willing to change to active learning via a TExT (assuming the first two points are successfully demonstrated). The next phase of the project will entail using the TExT to test these hypotheses.