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M.A. Longo, M. Pazos, M.A. Sanromán

University of Vigo (SPAIN)
The course Bioprocess Engineering is designed to introduce the student to the principles of Biochemical Engineering, and its application to some of the most important operations in the Biotechnology Industry. In recent years, Biochemical Engineering has reached a major impact. For this reason, biotechnology topic has been introduced in the curriculum of Chemical Engineering and Biological degree. The course Bioprocess Engineering is focuses on the interaction of chemical engineering, biochemistry, and microbiology. The objectives are to acquaint students with procedures for the design and control of industrial scale fermentation processes, to provide them with experience in the solution of open-ended design problems in fermentation process engineering, and to allow them to acquire practical skills in the conduct of fermentations and associated downstream separation processes.

Traditionally, in Bioprocess Engineering Education students learn about theoretical models in lectures and tutorials, and about practical issues in a laboratory. In this classical method the motivation of the student is low. Motivation plays an important role in students’ academic achievement and motivational problems, such as lack of participation, low effort, giving up quickly when facing difficulties, unwillingness to take on challenging tasks etc., can seriously undermine learning [1].

Recently, the application of new technologies to biotechnology courses had been described [2]. The rapid development of Internet communication technology has made e-Learning an attractive alternative tool to facilitate learning and increase the student motivation. The relevant aspect which permits e-learning, and which is not easy to establish with the traditional system of classes, is the engagement of the students to daily study [3].

Several of the recommendations found in the literature were integrated in our course structure in order to develop a pedagogically novel approach to teaching modern discoveries of biotechnology at a level most students of biology can comprehend and apply. In the Faculty of Biology (University of Vigo), from 2004-05 academic year, a new Bioprocess Engineering course was designed and successfully implemented until today. The results of the student interviews demonstrated that they have positive attitude toward using computer technology and prefer the new teaching-learning methodology than traditional. The anticipated difficulties were few and the results are better than expected. Students accepted the combination of classroom and e-learning environment positively and the chosen e-learning environment proved to be successful.

[1] Levpuscek MP, Peklaj C. Motivation of student teachers in educational psychology course: Its relation to the quality of seminar wok and final achievement. Horizons of Psychology (2007), 16(3):5-25.
[2] Evans C, Gibbons NJ, Shah K, Griffin DK. Virtual learning in the biological sciences: Pitfalls of simply "putting notes on the web". Computers and Education (2004), 43 (1-2):49-61.
[3] Mompo R, Redoli J. Some Internet-based strategies that help solve the problem of teaching large groups of engineering students. Innovations in Education and Teaching International (2010), 47(1):95-102.