University of Santiago de Compostela (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 6762-6766
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
“Technologies for the valorization of forest biomass wastes” is an optional course of the Master “Engineering of Chemical and Environmental Processes” at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). The course has a working charge of 3 ECTS (75 h) divided in 29 h of class sessions and 46 h of student autonomous work. The former includes lectures (10 h), seminars (12 h), tutorials (3 h) and evaluation (4 h).

The general course objectives are as follows: to understand the paths in the development of products and processes, to understand biomass properties and composition, the manufacturing processes and the science and engineering of the materials derived from renewable resources and to acquire the aptitude to design and manage effective, economically profitable and environmentally acceptable technologies to produce fuels, chemicals, products and energy from renewable materials. Additionally, some of the specific skills that must be acquired include: to carry out bibliographical studies and to synthesize results, to compare and to select technical alternatives, to write reports and scientific papers, to lead and to work effectively in interdisciplinary groups and to work of autonomous form and with initiative. The course syllabus has been organized in seven units: technologies based on renewable resources, obtaining of chemicals from lignocellulosic materials, application of natural products in the formulation of adhesives, wood-based composites, obtaining of antioxidants from biomass, application of lignocellulosic wastes as adsorbents of wastewater pollutants and energy from biomass.

In order to achieve the marked objectives and attain the selected skills the use of some cooperative learning techniques is proposed. Research has shown that cooperative learning techniques promote student learning and academic achievement, increase student retention, enhance student satisfaction, help students to develop skills in oral communication, develop students’ social skills and promote student self-esteem. Among the available techniques, two have been selected to be applied in four of the seven units: the Aronson Puzzle technique and the Co-op Co-op technique. The puzzle technique is developed using only class sessions (an introductory lecture and seminars) and unique material to learn, selected by the professor, is given to all puzzle groups. The report of each group is evaluated and an individual test of the knowledge is also conducted. In the Co-op Co-op technique, after an introductory lecture, the work is developed in seminars, group tutorials and also using the autonomous working hours. In this case, the individual work of each member of the group includes the search of the materials in bibliography. Individual contributions are evaluated by the members of each group and the corresponding individual writing report is evaluated by the professor. Additionally, each group has to prepare a presentation evaluated by the class. The cooperative learning activities will count for 60% of the final grade, corresponding the remaining 40% to an exam of the material presented in the lectures.
Cooperative work activities are complemented by the use of the virtual tool Blackboard learn, which is also used for other course activities (materials, communications, evaluation, etc). Every group has a space equipped with tools that help in collaboration process: e-mail, blog, diary, shared use of files and activities in group.
course design, cooperative learning techniques, e-learning, virtual tools.