Co-op classroom experiment leads to award winning success

(Edmonton) From October 16th to 19th, faculty and students from The Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering had the opportunity to attend the annual Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering Conference, held in Quebec City. Students Colin Roemer, Leah Goettler, Albert Liu, and Chris Leung all had the chance to represent the department of Chemical Engineering and lead presentations on their experience participating in a co-op program lab assignment development work term. Professor Marnie Jamison, who spear headed the initiative with support from Dr. John M. Shaw, hired the four co-op students based on academic achievement and interpersonal skills.

“This is the perfect opportunity for these students to learn about Engineering Education” said Jamieson. This included the chance for the students to work with each other and develop peer to peer teaching skills while developing and testing assignment materials. While developing the assignment the students discovered teaching might be a better learning tool for future students. The student’s experience highlighted the typical lecture method of teaching is not as effective with modern day students. Their goal was to shine a light on how some students might respond to a different approach and understand concepts at a deeper level.

This is the first to ever occur within a department at the University of Alberta, and is used as a beta test to best understand how peer to peer development works. The students developed a strong and note-worthy presentation for this year’s conference. “An opportunity like this doesn’t come up very often”, said Goettler; and that is easily understandable. Registration fees for the conference can reach as high as $710.00 individually, where 60% of the target audience are students. Funding for these students was provided by Dr. John Shaw, as well as from the Chemical Engineering Student Society.   

The CSChE student conference ran from Sunday to Wednesday and was packed with different seminars, presentations, and demonstrations delivered by universities and professionals from all over Canada. “One of the results we hope for is the students are able to build their network with other professionals that may help them in their future work.” Jamieson added, “We are preparing them for a changing world where challenge and innovation are prevalent .”

Goettler and Liu placed second in the Reg Frieson non- technical student competition. The presentation was well received by academics and professionals that lead them to their success. “We learnt a lot from this opportunity” said the very excited Goettler. “Not only did our skills develop as a person, but also professionally after presenting in front of so many.” Liu felt the same as they shared a role in the presentation speaking on how changes in the lecture room need to occur. “Some professors just come in and speak and not really leave an impression for the student” Liu explained. “We hope this is going to help change teaching dynamics”. After asking them what’s next for them after this year’s conference, Liu quickly said “first place!”