Case Studies in Sustainability Used in an Introductory Laboratory Course to Enhance Laboratory Instruction
Keywords: case studies teaching, environmental engineering laboratory
AbstractThis educational research seeks to develop novel laboratory modules by using Case Studies in the Science Teaching method to introduce sustainability and environmental engineering laboratory concepts to 21st century learners. The increased interest in “going green” has led to a surge in the number of engineering students studying sustainable engineering concepts in their courses. This educational research project has worked to improve critical thinking and the transfer of laboratory concepts to tangible real world applications for students. A total of four case study laboratory modules were developed for a junior level, Environmental Engineering Laboratory course. The case modules focused on providing (1) the contextual case-study or problem based learning modules that link engineering topics to real world sustainable engineering issues and (2) hands-on experiences for students that are designed to address new areas in sustainable engineering. Four case studies were developed to engage students in a “short case story” with real or fictional characters experiencing a real world event. Following the case story, students conducted independent research related to the case and the laboratory exercise. This paper investigates the use of this method of laboratory instruction to improve student learning, self-efficacy and student engagement. Feedback from the student interviews suggested they felt the case studies methods used in the course were more engaging compared to their traditional laboratory classes they had taken during their education. The students particularly enjoyed the real world approaches and seeing how they could expect to apply course laboratory skills to their real jobs after graduation.
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