Chemical Engineering Problems with Computer Applications Laboratory: A Hybrid Approach

Project Leader: Jennifer Heinen, Chemistry and Biological Engineering (pictured)
Collaborators: N/A
Courses Impacted: CH E 160
Annual Enrollment: 220
Estimated Completion: Fall 2015

ChE 160 covers the fundamental concepts in mathematics, problem-solving, and computer programming necessary for student success in the Chemical Engineering major. From 2008 to 2014 the undergraduate enrollment in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department has doubled from approximately 400 to 800 students. The increase in undergraduate enrollment has not only strained our ability to accommodate students in our computer-based courses, but has been accompanied by an increase in the range of fundamental skills possessed by the incoming first year students. The conversion of ChE 160 to a hybrid course in which new concepts are introduced prior to class meetings through instructional videos and example problems, and class time focuses on reinforcing these concepts through problem-solving activities offers several advantages over the current format. (1) Instructional videos will efficiently deliver consistent content to all students in all sections of the course. (2) The learning experience will be enhanced by allowing students who understand a concept to move quickly through the online material, while students who struggle with a concept will have the ability to review the instructional videos multiple times, and complete additional, optional practice problems prior to attending each class. (3) The in-class time for the course will be reduced by 70 minutes per week, so the course can be scheduled according to the standard university schedule. This will remove conflicts with other courses for the students, and provide our department with the available faculty and computer lab space to accommodate all of the students who need to enroll in the course.