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Bringing industry into the classroom. Contextualized Learning in Water and Wastewater Treatment CTE Michael Fritschi, PE, Grade V WWTPO. Contextualized learning.

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bringing industry into the classroom

Bringing industry into the classroom

Contextualized Learning in Water and Wastewater Treatment CTE

Michael Fritschi, PE, Grade V WWTPO

contextualized learning
Contextualized learning

“Relating instructional content to the specific contexts of students lives and interests increases interest and motivation to learn”

(Dirkx and Prenger 97’)

contextualized learning1
Contextualized learning

Abstraction and manipulation of symbols and theory often lead to de-contextualized learning.

contextualized learning2
Contextualized learning

Removing the “detachment” of information from the real world can be accomplished by removing traditional academic abstractions.

(Re-phrased from Resnick 87’)

water and wastewater operations classes
Water and wastewater operations classes


  • WAT-100 – Introduction to Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • WAT-180 – Analytical Methods in Water and Wastewater Systems

Application Oriented (nuts/bolts):

  • WAT-140 – Operation of Drinking Water Systems
  • WAT-160 – Operation of Wastewater Systems
basis of contextualized learning
basis of contextualized learning
  • Involves the student by combining Content with Context using authentic industry materials and standards.
      • Use real-life resources and scenarios for learning
      • Integrate existing skill sets into learning and performing new skills
      • Providing and applying multiple alternatives for solving problems
      • Students gain understanding through the mechanical process problem solving
benefits of contextual learning
Benefits of contextual learning:
  • The purpose of course material is understood.
  • The transfer of knowledge is efficient and immediately apparent.
  • Student interest is maintained.
components to contextualized learning
Components to contextualized learning
  • Inspiration – Encouraging participation
  • Presentation – “Lively Lecture”
  • Demonstration – Mechanics
      • Intellectual process integrated with application
      • Decision making skills
  • Culmination – Class Projects and Internships
  • Encourage students to integrate their own personal practical backgrounds.
      • Lecture Discussions
      • Build on existing skill-sets
  • Real World Job Flyers
      • Define skill sets and ranges of compensation
  • Congratulate
      • Small successes or mini-victories
      • Recognize these students publically
  • Keep it light – Keep it fun!
providing a lively lecture
Providing a “Lively lecture”
  • Relevant lecture topics.
      • Tie learning into “real-life”.
  • Images of the subject matter in industry
      • Cut sheets from equipment manufacturers
      • Drag equipment into the class room
  • Take less notes
      • Take a more active part in the lecture
  • Intonation of key phrases
  • Relate personal industry experience to the subject matter
      • “why do we do this?”
the lively lecture
The “Lively lecture”
  • Anecdotes
      • what students can expect in the industry
      • “most folks really do it this way”
  • Keep the lecture “light” and energetic
      • Fun
      • Show interest
  • Key phrases or information
      • Reiterate in different scenarios
  • Mechanical Application
      • Follow-up Quizzes
      • Question and Answer
  • Preparation for field trips
      • Allow a “background knowledge”
  • Illustrate the decision making process
  • Analytical analysis tied to concrete methodology
  • System knowledge & Established goals.
the math challenge
The Math challenge:
  • Fall 2009 & Spring 2010 WAT-180

Class statistics

      • 65.2% of the students have not taken a math class in over 10 years
      • Of those students, 63.3% have not taken a math class in over 20+ years.
  • Water and Wastewater Operations requires alotof math!
  • “ Non-Hate able” Math Just need a “Y”
  • Applied math
      • Low Theory – High practicality
  • Relate and accept discomfort
      • Remove the anxiety by mechanical practice (repetition)
      • Find the Fun!!
  • Technical Apparatus
      • Calculator recommendation, low cost
      • Acceptable for certification exams
      • advanced enough for square roots, parenthesis, exponent, pi button.
  • Anecdotes used for teaching math
      • “Mike’s rule”, “Ted’s method”
      • “Area = bore * bore *0.785”
      • 454 g /LB = “454 Chevy Big Block”
  • Dimensional analysis – lifelong tool
      • Puts the power in the hands of the student
  • Projects –“apply what you have learned”
      • Summarization of learning experience
      • Ability to apply knowledge
  • Internships – “apply what you have learned in the real world”
      • Ultimate Application of CTE
      • Students can relate their own experience
      • Bring their experience into the classroom
      • Students learn from supervisors and co-workers
  • WAT-100 Basin Plan
  • WAT-180 Process Analysis
  • WAT 140 & WAT 160 Water and Wastewater State Exams
wat 180 process analysis
WAT-180 Process analysis
  • Requires student to arrange and visit a water or wastewater treatment facility
  • Requires student to identify the primary process components of the treatment facility
  • How the components of the treatment facility function with each other process
wat 180 process analysis1
WAT-180 Process analysis
  • Requires the student to pick one process and evaluate
      • Process objective
      • Inputs and outputs
      • How the process is controlled
      • What process data is relevant?
      • Ramifications of the process in success and failure
wat 100 research project
Wat-100 research Project
  • Requires student to research the North Coast Basin Plan.
  • Student prepares a paper in their own words, that discusses selected topics covered in the research.
  • The goal is to teach the student through their own efforts
  • Student gains a basic understanding of relevant information that directly impacts the water quality industry.
wat 140 wat 160
Wat-140 & WAT-160
  • Prepare and take State Certification Exams
  • Encouraged to join professional organizations (network)
      • CWEA-California Water Environment Association
      • AWWA – American Water Works Association
      • Industry Conferences
      • Industry Specialized Training Sessions
  • In-depth “nuts and bolts” of operations
  • Will try to place every student locally that has passed WAT-100 & WAT-180 Classes
  • Designed to get students experience in the field
      • An additional dimension to the learning experience
  • Provide a basis for discussion in WAT-140 & WAT-160 classes
  • CTE Students respond best to applied concepts rather than abstract ideas
  • Apply context to content through mechanical process
  • Utilize Existing Skill-Sets
  • Culmination in projects and internships
  • Bring Industry Into the Classroom!