Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Engineering--Study and teaching (Higher), Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher), Problem-based learning


Chemical Engineering | Chemistry | Engineering Education


This paper will describe the implementation and continuing development of five problem based laboratory experiments in a general chemistry course designed specifically for multiple disciplines of engineering students at the University of New Haven. The Problem Based Laboratory Experiments (PBLE) were developed to provide students with the opportunity to perform and develop experimental procedures working in interdisciplinary teams, while achieving a greater understanding of the role of chemistry in engineering fields. In each PBLE, students first complete a traditional chemistry experiment to gain an understanding of the chemical concepts and to become familiar with executing a written procedure with a specific goal. Following this, students are presented with an engineering driven problem or task related to the chemical concepts. Students use knowledge obtained from the previously completed process to design an experiment addressing the problem. In place of formal laboratory reports, students create technical memos, written by rotating team leaders, that includes their recommendations or responses to the presented problem. All recommendations must be based on their devised experimental approach and the actual data that was obtained. Students are also required to complete an error analysis by considering changes to improve data acquisition, should the experiment be run again. The technical memos are graded against a defined rubric that assesses the work with a focus on the designed experimental approach, data reporting and presentation, and recommendations based heavily upon those results. The grading is designed to allow students a level of academic freedom from right and wrong answers, focusing instead on understanding the value of working with data obtained from an experimental process and making recommendation based upon those results. The development of skills needed to solve problems is important for both chemists and engineers. The problem based learning experience brought students beyond following simple protocols and procedures and gave students experience in an analytical design process, collaboration and technical writing. The goal of designing and implementing the PBLEs was to integrate a problem based learning experience while increasing levels of student engagement in comparison to more traditional chemistry experiments.


© 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.



Publisher Citation

Hesser, Tiffany L., and Stephanie R. Bunyea (2016). “Development and Implementation of Problem-based Chemistry Experiments for Engineering Students in a Multi-disciplinary Course.” Paper presented at 2016 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana.



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