Our team’s research focuses on fundamental problems in undergraduate education in terms of how to expand use of well researched, yet still “new”, teaching pedagogies of ‘sensing’ or ‘hands-on’, ‘active’ and ‘problem-based learning’ within engineering courses. It is now widely accepted that traditional lectures ARE NOT best for students – yet that is what the community almost universally does.
To address this issue we are developing new Desktop Learning Modules (DLMs) that contain miniaturized processes with a uniquely expandable electronic system to contend with known sensor systems/removable cartridges, as well as, unknown expansions to the project. We have shown that miniaturized mimics of industrial-scale equipment produce process data that agree with correlations developed for large-scale equipment. We are now adapting concepts shown efficacious in a single chemical engineering course to a variety of engineering classes within civil, mechanical, bio- and electrical engineering. Some examples of new hands-on learning applications in chemical engineering include a boiler / condenser and evaporative and shell & tube heat exchangers.
In bioengineering, we are developing prognostic devices for separating Prostate Cancer Tumor Cells (PCTCs) from blood, sensing for the presence of PCTCs, a thermoregulation simulated limb cartridge for studying kinematics of heat flow and heat distribution in human extremities, and immunoaffinity neuron-like ion selective electrodes. In civil engineering, the DLMs illustrate open channel flow units and a solar powered Rankine cycle is underway in mechanical engineering. We are implementing DLMs along with team learning pedagogy. In this paper we will present technical aspects surrounding development of a large number of new learning cartridges. While the assessment strategies being developed are broadly applicable we will just present one instance, with the civil engineering cartridge, of the identification of misconceptions and experimental design for assessing the impact of the DLM on learning. The assessment includes a pre- and post-test assessment to determine improvement in understanding basic concepts and persistence and/or repair of misconceptions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/marc_compere/1/