A critical Action Research approach to curriculum development in a laboratory -based chemical engineering course

Scott R White, Purdue University

Abstract

This dissertation is a report of an attempt to critically evaluate a novel laboratory course from within the context of a chemical engineering curriculum. The research was done in a college classroom-laboratory setting, entrenched in the everydayness of classroom activities. All of the students, instructors, and educational researchers were knowing participants in this Action Research study. The students, a mixture of juniors, seniors, & graduate students, worked together on semester-long projects in groups that were mixed by age, gender and academic level. Qualitative techniques were used to gather different forms of representations of the students and instructors' experiences. Emergent patterns from the data gave strength to emergent knowledge claims that informed the instructors and the researcher about what the students were learning about performing experimental work and communicating results with their peers and instructor. The course challenged and in some cases changed the conceptions of instruction previously held by the students and the instructors. The course did not proceed without problems, yet the majority of these problems were overcome by the design of the course. Assertions and recommendations for improvement and application to other educational contexts are suggested. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Major Professor: George M. Bodner, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, Sciences|Education, Higher

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