Education Research Study

Our goal with the launch of this ChE 496 section was to expose students earlier on to research within the ChE Department and to help them build fundamental research skills. Other universities have developed similar courses in other fields but have approached the task in different ways. We feel that ChE 496-001, as well as being one of the first of its kind in the chemical engineering discipline, has a very unique structure. In particular, we believe that the integration of bench and computational work, as well as its undergraduate leadership sets ChE 496-001 apart from other courses. We would like to relay the progress and effects of our course to our peers at other institutions, so that other students may benefit as well.

To accomplish this, we propose a set of three publications. Using pre- and post-surveys, following our initial attempt and recommendations in section 3, we can measure the change in students’ perceptions of research, laboratory and computational skills, and interest in the department. As suggested earlier, we encourage the submission of an IRB application in future renditions of the course to use students’ responses in publications.

1) Review paper

We are currently writing an opinion piece for CEE (Chemical Engineering Education), where we discuss undergraduate-led, research-focused courses as a tool for complementing traditional ChE curricula in preparing students for the rapidly evolving and interdisciplinary nature of our field. We foreshadow the empirical study in this paper as well.

2) Empirical study on the course

Once the course has been properly refined and operated a sufficient amount of times for collection of statistically-relevant data, we ultimately seek to publish an empirical study that quantitatively evaluates the course’s objectives.

3) Longitudinal study on the course

As mentioned in the surveys section (2.4.6), we plan to use a longitudinal survey to collect data on the course’s influence on students’ trajectories a few years after completing the course.

The results from this course can be further used to shape the development of the ChE curriculum at the University of Michigan, as well as at other institutions.