Teaching process simulation using video-enhanced and discovery/inquiry-based learning: Methodology and analysis within a theoretical framework for skill acquisition

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Process simulation has become an essential tool for chemical engineers in education and industry. Various studies examining the teaching and learning of process simulation are available, although no clear theoretical frameworks for process simulation pedagogy currently exist. The work presented here describes a methodology for teaching process simulation that utilises video-enhanced and exploratory-based learning. The teaching approach is evaluated for a cohort of first year students, with the evaluation drawing on tutor observations, online survey responses and interviews with students. These data sources are used to explore the student experience and reveal that students engaged positively with the learning process. They also show that students benefitted from and valued the learning approaches used. Furthermore, interview responses were interrogated in detail using a thematic analysis, which revealed several key themes. The learning process is observed to occur in distinct phases, with each phase being underpinned by different learning modalities. An ‘early’ phase of learning is identified, which is supported by expository learning, whereas a ‘late’ phase of learning, also identified, is supported by a combination of discovery- and inquiry-based learning. A possible ‘future’ phase of learning is also described, where it is anticipated students could develop their process simulation skills further. These phases of learning are noted and observed to be linked with various stages of skill acquisition and cognition. The learning process is also supported by a range of factors, including student meta-cognition, motivation and knowledge development but hindered by a number of potential obstacles. Overall, the findings, supported by student quotations, provide a rich picture of how students can progress through successive levels of skill development in process simulation, forming a proposed learning model for process simulation pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-64
Number of pages11
JournalEducation for Chemical Engineers
Early online date15 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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