1 University of Castilla-La Mancha (SPAIN)
2 University Rey Juan Carlos (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 3466-3471
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
One of the key courses in the chemical engineering degree is the unit operations course. This subject is mainly based on practical exercises and problems. Usually this subject is taught in lectures where the students learnt the theoretical concepts that must be applied in exercises and problems.
Traditionally, the exercises and problems are solved in the blackboard by the teacher, playing the students, in most of the cases, a passive role. This attitude yields poor results in the exams and limits the abilities acquired by the students.
In this work, with the aim to enhance the quality of the course, which would results in better marks and abilities reached by the students, the traditional method was complemented with novel activities like seminars and tutoring sessions. The seminar and tutoring sessions were distributed along the course, being the objective of the seminars to check the concepts learnt in each module of the course and the objective of the tutoring session to ensure that the students are provided with the abilities required to solve the exercises and problems.
These sessions were leaded by the teacher of the course which organised small groups of students, in our case of 15 students. In the seminar meetings the teacher proposed a general exercise, summing up most of the concepts of a module, which should be resolved by each one of the students of these small groups. The main task of the teacher in these sessions is not to solve the exercise, but to identify the main problems of the students and to check the abilities reached by each one of them. With these sessions, the teacher can recognize which are the main difficulties of the subject and where the students made most of the mistakes when they are trying to solve a problem. This information is very interesting because allows to focus the lectures on the main concepts reducing the time expended on secondary or very easy concepts. To reinforce the weakest concepts, the tutoring sessions are a very good tool because they are placed once the module is finished and can be used to pass by again the weakest concepts.
Before the application of the seminars and tutoring sessions the feasibility must be evaluated. This is very important because the division of the group of students into several small groups could increase drastically the time dedicated to teaching activities of the teacher. In our case, the inclusion of some of these activities into the timetable of the course reduced the work load originated, being the increase almost inappreciable. The small increase in the work load of the teacher made the inclusion of both activities interesting, but to decide whether their inclusion enhance the abilities of the students or not the results obtained by the students should be studied. To do this study, the marks obtained by the students in courses with and without seminars and tutoring activities were analysed statistically.
After the analysis, it was observed that the students attending the course in which seminars and tutoring activities were present got better marks. With seminars and tutoring activities the average mark was increased in about a 14%, the number of students participating in the modular exams was increased and the percentage of students getting final marks over 5 points was increased. Moreover, the satisfaction of the students with the new program of the course was higher than that obtained without seminars and tutoring activities.
innovation, chemical engineering degree, unit operations, seminars, tutory sessions.