Teaching mathematical modelling: a research based approach
Foley, Greg (2009) Teaching mathematical modelling: a research based approach. In: Edtech 2009 - the Irish Educational Technology Users' Conference, 21-22 May 2009, National College of Ireland, Dublin.
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A collaborative, research based laboratory experiment in mathematical modelling was included in a bioprocess engineering laboratory module, taught as part of an interdisciplinary program in biotechnology. The class was divided into six groups of three students and given the task of investigating a novel diafiltration process that is currently the focus of international research. Different aspects of the problem were assigned to each group and inter-group communication via email was required to ensure that there was a coherent set of objectives for each group and for the class as a whole. The software package, Berkeley Madonna, was used for all calculations. As well as giving the students an introduction to mathematical modelling and computer programming, this approach helped to illustrate the importance of research in bioprocess engineering.
In general, the experiment was well received by the students and the fact that they were discovering new knowledge generated a degree of enthusiasm. However, many students were consumed by the technical demands of computer programming, especially the attention to detail required. Thus, they did not think too deeply about the physical aspects of the system they were modelling. In future years, therefore, consideration will be given to giving the student prior instruction in the use of the software.
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