This paper presents a quantitative and qualitative study for discovering how written reflective exercises following in-class prediction activities enhance learning gains in a heat and mass transfer course for chemical engineering undergraduate students. The primary purpose of this research is to determine if and how written reflection activities are successful at adjusting commonly-held misconceptions students have about heat and mass transfer. To study this, three 30-minute prediction activities are planned throughout a ten-week course. The study participants include three sections each with approximately 25 junior-level chemical engineering students. Based on their course section, students are broken into two groups. One group is asked to complete a follow-up reflection assignment after each prediction activity, guiding them through the reflective process, while the other group completes no structured follow-up reflection activity. The HECI concept inventory is administered to students of all sections at the start and the end of the course. The HECI along with other course assessments will be used to evaluate learning gains. Archived data from classes with no prediction activities and no reflection activities will serve as a control group. Correlations between quantitative assessment performance and student group (prediction activities and practicing reflection, prediction activities only, no prediction and no reflection) will be discussed. To explore if the quality of reflection is related to learning gains, student reflections will be ranked according to a validated rubric and compared with data on learning gains. Additionally, to further understand how students’ perception of learning is affected by these activities, a focus group of approximately 10 students will be organized and interviewed in a semi-structured format after the conclusion of the course. Key insights from the qualitative interviews will be discussed. The goal of this study is to direct the role of prediction and reflection activities in future courses.
Heather Chenette is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her professional interests include leveraging qualitative methods to understand and enhance student learning in the classroom and creating opportunities for students to learn about polymers, membrane materials, and bioseparation processes through research experiences.
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