Perception and Experience of In-Sequence and Out-of-Sequence Engineering Students in a General Chemistry Laboratory

  • Courtney Mercedes Spillman University of Florida
  • Lorelie Imperial University of Florida
  • Kent Crippen University Florida
Keywords: chemistry laboratory, undergraduate research, engineering, in-sequence, out-of-sequence students, situated learning


The ChANgE Chem (NSF-1625378) utilizes Cognitive Apprenticeship as a theoretical framework for integrating engineering practices into a freshman chemistry laboratory course for engineering majors with the goal of better supporting all students to degree completion. The activities are structured as three-week Design Challenges (DCs) where students use chemistry knowledge to solve authentic engineering problems. This study explores the experiences of students taking the course in-sequence (i.e. fall of freshman year) versus those taking it out-of-sequence (i.e. spring), where out-of-sequence students have been identified as at higher academic risk. Data was collected through audio and video recordings and post-laboratory surveys. Video recordings were coded using a protocol to identify type and frequency of issues and questions asked. The post-laboratory surveys obtained information concerning students’ perception of task difficulty and their feelings of being like an engineer. The data demonstrated that while out-of-sequence students ask more questions and experience more issues, they did feel like successful engineers and did not find the tasks too difficult. Therefore, additional curriculum supports as well as assistance from a Teaching Assistant are needed in order to positively influence the persistence of out-of-sequence students in spite of the challenges they may face.

Author Biographies

Courtney Mercedes Spillman, University of Florida
Student, Department of Chemistry
Lorelie Imperial, University of Florida
Doctoral Student, School of Teaching and Learning
Kent Crippen, University Florida
Professor, School of Teaching and Learning


Authors, 2019. Information blinded for review.

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