A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Supporting student learning of chemical reaction engineering using a socially scaffolded virtual laboratory concept

Publication Details
Authors: Naukkarinen Johanna, Sainio Tuomo
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2018
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Education for Chemical Engineers
Volume number: 22
Start page: 61
End page: 68
Number of pages: 8
ISSN: 1749-7728
eISSN: 1749-7728
JUFO-Level of this publication: 1
Open Access: Not an Open Access publication


This paper presents an example of
open-ended problem solving in the field of chemical reaction engineering
using the virtual laboratory (VL) concept. The study was structured as
an educational design experiment, which used the VL concept in teaching
chemical reaction engineering in the Chemical Engineering degree
programme at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT).

artificial reaction system used in the VL assignment consisted of a
small set of coupled reactions in a homogeneous medium. The groups
communicated with the ‘staff’ of the VL via Moodle’s discussion forum
feature. The students gave written instructions about how and under what
conditions their experiments should be performed. The experiments were
conducted by the teacher, who ran the simulations using the parameters
the students provided.

The VL concept proved to be
an efficient method for supporting the students’ ability to execute the
various subtasks in reactor design in a professional manner. Students
had to explicate their understanding of the task, and they could use
their cognitive capacity on problem solving rather than the more
technical or practical skills of data acquisition. For the teacher, the
method provided an opportunity to scaffold the various student groups at
different levels. It also helped to distinguish between groups using
concept-based approaches and equation-based approaches and to guide the
latter toward the approach used by the former.

Last updated on 2019-13-03 at 12:00