Teaching courses heavily dependent on computational resources to STEM students during Pandemics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The current pandemic has blatantly affected teaching at all levels. Specifically, in Portugal, for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students attending Universities and taking high learning degrees, it was particularly harsh. Most mandatory courses implied attendance to science laboratory or computational lab lessons that had to be postponed to after lockdown times, rescheduled to late night hours, or simply converted into videoconference sessions. Teachers and researchers had to be very creative and resourceful to keep their students interested and invested in their courses in spite of the disturbing and abnormal situations caused by the pandemic. Operational Research, Simulation, and Actuarial and Financial Mathematics courses were mostly converted to online versions with videoconference lectures supported by elearning platforms. The courses’ heavy usage of computational resources and the physical characteristics of the majority of existing computer labs prevented the possibility of face-to-face classes due to social distancing even after the end of the several lockdowns. Unfortunately, online versions of these very hands-on courses revealed to be really bland and having a low appealing to students, leading to pupils’ increasingly dropping out of courses and even quitting their attendance for that particular semester. In this work the authors will present the adaptations that they decided to implement on their courses during three long semesters to make the teaching and learning experiences engaging, interesting and effective and the assessment activities reliable and efficient. Lectures being recorded (previously or live), small group assignments during classes, the use of a professional video-conferencing software, each course having its Moodle page are some of the experimented adaptations, among others. The main goal was to meliorate and even to cease students’ drop-outs. This work will explore the experiments and good practices that worked and the ones that did not correspond to the expected outcomes. Additionally, some framing will be made concerning how Portuguese Government and the authors’ teaching institution have supported these experiments and good practices. Some comparisons between the students’ performances from the affected semesters and from previous years will also be presented.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication32nd European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering
EditorsLudovic Montastruc, Stephane Negny
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Pages1687-1692
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-0-323-95879-0
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameComputer Aided Chemical Engineering
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Volume51
ISSN (Print)1570-7946

Keywords

  • Active Learning
  • Pandemics
  • Peer Instruction
  • Teaching Practices
  • Virtual Education

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