(221g) Case Studies As Vehicles for Enhancing Students’ Perceptions of the Broad Relevance of Biochemistry in Chemical Engineering
We have piloted a course that presents chemical engineering case studies at the end of a survey course on biochemistry. All chemical engineering students at Iowa State University are required to take at least one semester of biochemistry. These students bifurcate into two groups. One group has interest in biological applications of chemical engineering and takes a two-semester sequence. The second group has much less interest in biological applications of chemical engineering and takes a one-semester course. Through senior surveys, we measured dissatisfaction with the biochemistry requirement in this second group. This was due in large part to a lack of understanding of the broad impact of biochemistry on chemical engineering industries. Consequently, collaboration between the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology was formed to address this problem. We designed a new course containing two components. The first component included a condensed presentation of core biochemistry principles. The second component included chemical engineering case studies that showcased the relevance of biochemistry in the development of industrially relevant products. We will present the design of the case study topics, content delivery approach and assessment. We collected data from end-of-course evaluations, surveys deployed at the beginning and end of the course and senior surveys. Longitudinal analysis indicated that the overall student rating of the course improved. In addition, students who took the course with case studies were more likely to agree that biochemistry is broadly relevant to chemical engineering and disagree that biochemistry is only relevant to healthcare. Future work will be focused towards determining if the case studies result in a better understanding of fundamental topics in biochemistry and motivate students to take additional biology-focused courses.