PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING BY LABORATORY EXPERIMENTS IN POLYMER SCIENCE FOR CHEMISTRY AND MATERIALS SCIENCE UNDERGRADUATES
Universidad del País Vasco UPV/EHU (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Problem-based learning is a highly useful tool in higher education to specifically work transversal competences, and at the same time add a motivational approach to those subjects in which students present learning difficulties. Training in polymer science or materials science usually includes in its curriculum subjects devoted to the study of interactions in polymers, the characterization of polymeric materials and their influence in physicochemical properties that are closely related to thermodynamic concepts. However, even for the last course students, the link between these properties and thermodynamics studied during the degree still represents a difficulty to overcome. In this context, simple experimental problems have been designed to improve the visualization and the understanding of those concepts, in addition to motivating students and promoting the development some transversal skills such as critical thinking.
Three different materials were tested during laboratory practices (less than one hour in the lab): a block copolymer, an interpolymer complex and a non-miscible blend. These three materials remain unknown for the students, and they must perform several short experiments in order to evaluate their physicochemical properties and to determine which kind of material they are. Each student group could have access only to two different experiments among a total of four available in order to get enough data to categorize the given materials. Before laboratory practices, they should describe and understand the main properties of each group of selected materials with the aim of choosing the most useful methodology. It is important to notice that there is more than one way to combine the suggested experiments to get the required information, so the creative thinking and the autonomous learning will be encouraged among students.
Keywords: Problem-based learning, transversal skills, polymer science, chemistry.