(198b) Development and Assessment of a Web-Based Interactive Aerosol Program for Undergraduate Education

Authors: 
Wu, C., University of Florida
Switt, R., University of Florida
Wintz, H., University of Florida
Donnelly, A., University of Florida
Hodge, E., University of Florida
Biswas, P., Washington University in St. Louis
Kumar, P., University of Florida


Introduction Aerosol science and engineering is a multidisciplinary field with diverse applications, and there is a great demand for trained individuals in this field. The teaching of aerosol science and engineering nowadays has been primarily restricted to the graduate level, and in individual disciplinary areas, resulting in a shortage of trained individuals in this field (Friedlander and Hopke, 1999). To introduce the subject in a broader manner so that the complex principles can be understood at the undergraduate level, an interactive and multidisciplinary computer program has been developed. The goal is to increase students' awareness of and interest in studying the subject though the interactive and dynamic features.

Program Development The computer program consists of three web-based modules, including: (1) Cyclone for particulate control, (2) Optical Particle Counter for particle size characterization, and (3) Respiratory Deposition for health effect assessment. They are available at http://aerosol.ees.ufl.edu and www.aerosols.wustl.edu/aaqrl/courses/cycopcresp/. Each module contains two parts. The first part is a narrative for background principles illustrated by dynamic animation for visualization. This section includes real-world contextual materials that the students can relate to. The second part is an interactive web calculator for design/assessment or a web simulator for virtual operation. These modules can be used as stand-alone units or as an integrated unit. In order to maximize the ease of use and interactivity of the learning environment, various web and scripting technologies are used to implement the user interfaces, including HTML, ASP, VBscript and Flash. HTML is used to deliver normal static web pages, while ASP and VBscript are used to develop more interactive and dynamic content. Macromedia Flash is a platform for easily developing interactive multimedia animation and audio presentations for the web and is used to create highly engaging and active content. To allow for the widest possible exposure, a standard web browser platform (Microsoft Internet Information Services, IIS) is used as the client-side interface to deliver content to the client browsers, and the design has been tested on the most widely used browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape and Mozzila) available.

Evaluation Results An extensive formative and summative evaluation program was undertaken to ensure that the three developed modules were effective at teaching the desired content as well as to determine the degree of satisfaction of the students using the modules as learning tools. Formative evaluation was conducted with both student users as well as with aerosol faculty who were potential users of the final products. The modules were available for testing by faculty participants at three conferences where numerous conference participants had hands-on experiences with the program. Among them, forty-eight individual participants tested the modules and responded to the survey (summarized in Table 1). Ninety-two percent (92%) of the respondents indicated that the cyclone module would be a useful tool in teaching particle transport related concepts, or topics related to inertial behavior of particles. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the respondents rated the OPC Module a good virtual measurement tool. Ninety-seven (97%) of the respondents indicated that for aerosol health effects topics, the Respiratory Deposition Module would be useful. It is clear that the modules were very well received by this important group.

Table 1 Summary of the Conference Presentations and Survey Results Conference No. Participants Comments International Aerosol Conference, Taipei, Taiwan, Sep. 2002 100 Very valuable product; requested copies for use in their home institutions. Also an asset to industrial practitioners for re-training. Written reviews and feedback (see form, Suppl. 1) American Association for Aerosol Research, Charlotte, NC, Oct. 2002 75 Enhanced interest amongst US educators. Feedback obtained for improvement. American Society for Engineering Education, Nashville, TN, Jun 2003 40 Useful tools even for instructors who are not experts in aerosol science & engineering. Feedback obtained for improvement. Students and faculty provided valuable feedback to the designers who were then able to make modifications necessary to improve the modules. Following these modifications, the modules were then summatively evaluated using two instruments in the classroom setting (summarized in Table 2). The first survey asked for participants' evaluation of the website and this mode of learning. This questionnaire was composed of 14 questions. The qualitative data from this questionnaire were analyzed using guidelines established by Miles and Huberman (1994), the results of which provided valuable information for revision of the format, navigability, and other design aspects of the modules. The second questionnaire, used as both the pre and post test instruments, asked for answers related to the content of the module, therefore evaluating the usefulness of the module to teach the actual aerosol content, and the results were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS v. 10). A simple regression analysis was carried out to investigate the relationship between pre- and post- test scores. The results in each case showed no significant relationship between the scores. In addition, a one-sample t-test was conducted to check for significant mean differences between the pre- and post-tests. In every case, the means of the post-test scores were higher than that of the pre-test scores. As expected, the standard deviations of the post-test scores were lower than those of the pre-test scores. The maximum scores on the post-test were, in all cases, higher than the maximum scores on the pre-test. The results of the one-sample t-test showed a statistically significant difference between the means of the pre- and post-test scores: for the Cyclone module, t (17) = 5.182, p =0.00; for the OPC module, t (15) = 6.412, p =0.00; and for the RD module, t (15) = 6.752, p =0.00 The data collected as a result of the modules evaluation clearly indicated both the usefulness of the modules as teaching tools and a high degree of acceptance by the students. The University of Florida has a significant number of women and minority students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and the evaluation sample group reflected this diversity, including 44% female and 11% minority students.

Table 2 Summary of the Program Utilization and Tests in Class Class No. Students Comments PERC students 10 (Juniors & Seniors) Formative Evaluation ? design data. UF ENV 4121, Air Pollution Control Design, Fall 2002 18 (Seniors) Students used the Cyclone module to command on design UF ENV 5072, Pollution Control & Prevention, Spring 2003 13 (Graduate) All three modules were used to demonstrate the importance of measurement, control and assessment of air pollutants. Pre- and Post-Tests were conducted. UF ENV 6130/4932, Aerosol Mechanics 5 (Seniors) 5 (Graduate) All three modules were used to demonstrate the multidisciplinary nature of aerosol. Pre- and Post-Tests were conducted. WUStL ChE 368, Transport Phenomena II, Fall 2002 12 (Juniors) Demonstrated enhanced understanding of concepts ? validated by pre and post tests. Topics hitherto not typically covered in class allowed students to be exposed to valuable subject matter WUStL CE 262, Introduction to Environmental Engineering, Spring 2003 38 (Sophomores) Illustrated concepts of respiratory deposition. Enhanced understanding of mechanisms of aerosol deposition in the lung. Pre- and Post-Tests were conducted. WUStL CE 146, Introduction to Civil Engineering, Spring 2003 22 (Freshmen) Self-learning demonstrated through testing. Overview of aerosol science, and its engineering applications

Future Work Currently the project team is working on the development of seven more modules, including (1) Aerosol Basics, (2) Aerosol Transport, (3) Aerosol Instrumentation, (4) Aerosol Collection Devices, (5) Nanoparticles, (6) Atmospheric Aerosols and (7) Health Care related Aerosols. Assessment will be carried out for these modules as well. They will be available for public access once assessment is complete. The results will be presented in future conferences.

References Friedlander, S. K. and Hopke, P. K., "How to make the field of aerosol science & technology more visible and useful", Aerosol Sci. Technol., 30, 1999, 409-410. Miles, M. B. and Huberman, M. A., ?Qualitative data analysis: A sourcebook of new methods? (2nd ed.), Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, 1994.

Acknowledgement This work is made possible by an NSF Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) grant, Awards # DUE 0127429 and DUE 0442802. Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).