Prioritizing learning objectives for chemical engineering laboratory courses

Sarah A. Wilson, Samira Azarin Azarin, Chris Barr, Joanne Kay Beckwith, Janie Brennan, Tracy L. Carter, Amy J. Karlsson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Chemical engineering laboratory courses allow students to work hands-on with equipment they may see in industrial positions. These courses often account for learning outcomes related to experimentation, teamwork, and communication skills, among others. To work towards alignment of laboratory courses with industrial needs, it is necessary to understand 1) the learning outcomes currently addressed in laboratory courses and 2) how key stakeholders perceive the importance of specific laboratory learning outcomes. Therefore, three surveys were designed based on thirteen proposed learning outcomes for engineering laboratory courses that were identified in the literature [1]. The surveys were developed and distributed to faculty members, students, and industrial engineers to gain understanding of the outcomes important to the various stakeholders [2]. The results will provide guidance on how to prioritize lab learning outcomes and allow for the redesign of laboratory courses that better align with the skills and attributes desired by stakeholders. This paper describes results from the survey of 73 chemical engineering faculty members. Faculty were asked to identify key learning outcomes for a unit operations course through a series of three questions: 1) an open-ended response question, 2) identifying the importance of previously identified learning outcomes through a Likert-Scale response and 3) ranking their top five learning outcomes. Open ended responses were coded based on the learning outcomes previously identified in the literature [1]. The survey was distributed via snowball sampling, with initial distribution at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' annual meeting in 2022 and via social media. Faculty response data was analyzed to identify trends across the three different response types. Across the survey responses, there was agreement on the high level of importance of four learning outcomes: design experiment, compare to theory, analyze data, and communication. While the learning outcome of ethics was rated as significantly important for a laboratory course, many faculty did not include this in their ranking of the top five learning outcomes or their open-ended response of important learning outcomes for a laboratory course. Moving forward, results will be combined with findings from the student and industry surveys to suggest which outcomes should be prioritized within a chemical engineering laboratory course setting.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2023.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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