Interactive Self-Study Modules for Chemical Engineering Courses

John Falconer
Mel and Virginia Clark Professor Emeritus
University of Colorado Boulder

Need: Resources are needed that make it easier for faculty to incorporate active learning into chemical engineering courses and that make it easier for students to learn on their own.

Guiding Question: Can interactive self-study modules (ISSMs) increase retention and learning for chemical engineering students.

Outcomes: We currently have more than 90 ISSMs available on; each module takes approximately one hour for students to complete. These web-based ISSMs can be used either as part of flipped classroom instruction or by students on their own. They incorporate approaches that have been shown to increase student learning, including self-testing. Feedback is being obtained in both chemical engineering and mechanical engineering courses. Most ISSMs contain the following: 1. An overview that describes module goals, pre-requisites, and what students should be able to do after completing the module 2. An initial conceptual question (ConcepTest) and example problem 3. Short (3-6 minute) introductory screencasts that pause and present questions that are answered within the screencast 4. Important equations with explanations of symbols 5. Interactive simulations with questions asking to predict system behavior before using the simulations. Screencasts describe how to use the simulations. 6. An interactive quiz-yourself simulation that leads students through a step-by-step procedure (for some modules) 7. Example problems with screencast solutions 8. ConcepTests with answers and explanations 9. A list of key points

Broader Impacts: These modules are used by students in both chemical engineering and mechanical engineering departments and have impacted thousands of students.


J. Will Medlin, University of Colorado Boulder; J. deGrazia, University of Colorado Boulder