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A. Elías, A. Barona, L. Insausti, L. Gurtubay, N. Azpiazu, I. Aranguiz

University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), (SPAIN)
The aim of this paper is to report our experience in teaching Chemical Engineering subjects at University level, bearing in mind that teaching staff need to address the challenge of integration within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) with modern and effective teaching tools.
Our experience in experimental subjects (such as the one called “Experimentation in Chemical Engineering I”, which is taught in the third year of the Chemical Engineering degree) has led to the use of new technologies that help us to redress shortcomings in students.
In cooperation with the Educational Advisory Service (SAE-UPV/EHU), a series of activities and/or tools have been planned with a view to achieving some of the key characteristics of competences, namely, the learning by doing and the developing the ability to successfully carry out a task or role in both habitual and new contexts.
These activities begin at the subject’s planning stage, when the aim is to learn from the experience of previous courses. Accordingly, a prior survey has been conducted, being held before the students begin the new course, preferably in the preceding June. The purpose of this initial survey is to sound out the students’ interests, as well as their opinion on other matters, such as tutorials on reports, use of Moodle, visits to companies, etc.
An analysis of the answers provided has enabled us to consider an activity that we had not foreseen, the seminar–workshop. This activity has been held in several sessions before the start of laboratory practicals. The main aim of the seminar-workshop is to analyse and develop the theory of the practicals on paper. We have managed to resolve the key issues of the practical whereby students enter the laboratory fully understanding what they are going to do. Each session has involved the clarifying of doubts in groups, the organisation of work stages, the preparation of flow diagrams for the assays to be carried out, the review of theoretical and safety considerations, the gathering and depiction of data etc., while encouraging the hands-on involvement of students.
These seminars have enabled us to reveal certain shortcomings amongst the students, which they are often reluctant to mention in class, and which when discussed with the instructor help to clarify and consolidate core concepts.
The necessary material for these seminars, as well as for studying the subject, has been uploaded beforehand to the Moodle platform. The platform has not only been used for posting information and the scripts for the practicals, but also for creating an interactive environment in which both, students and teaching staff, feel involved and integrated. Thus, inclusion has been made of activities such as:
• Safety guidelines
• Troubleshooting forum
• Forum on chemical news
• Glossary
• Wiki of interesting Internet addresses
• Surveys
• Others
The experience so far acquired in this project has been extremely positive. We have achieved our goals of ensuring that students enter the laboratory with a high level of understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it. We have also managed to motivate them in terms of tasks, pro-active attitudes and initiative, quality of work undertaken and degree of expertise in procedures and concepts. Likewise, the teaching staff have shared a joint willingness to improve and implement changes that are conducive to an efficient learning process for students.