University of Iowa
How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?
The technology classroom for discussion sections provides the promise of extensive exportability in other scientific disciplines or to any area. It is configured for small group interaction and has the ability for technology to deliver activities and assignments and to collect information and results from students.
Inherent in the changes to the first semester of general chemistry are the same ones for the second semester course. Because they represent a two-semester sequence, the Chemistry faculty voted to implement them all at once. That entire process will be complete by the end of spring 2003.
Chemistry also provides large enrollment classes for students without as much background in chemistry and math skills (i.e., preparatory chemistry) and a second course for non-science majors. The former has an enrollment of ca. 1200 and the latter of ca. 800 per academic year. Some of our experiences can and should be transferred to those courses.
Many of the lessons and experiences are relevant to general chemistry across the country and to other sciences (i.e., biology, physics, and earth sciences) here and elsewhere. The PI has been invited to speak with Physics and Mechanical Engineering about some of the pedagogical changes.
How are you disseminating the re-design among your colleagues?
The Chemistry Department has been very supportive of the proposed changes and the course components that have been implemented to this point. A large number of faculty cycle through teaching the introductory courses. Most are comfortable with changes as long as some or most of the procedures are institutionalized.
Some colleagues are very comfortable with lecturing at large numbers of students. This model is quite pervasive in the discipline and has extended over a long period of time. Data showing the relationship of doing the homework to improved grades are quite compelling. Also, automating the grading of large numbers of homework problems is attractive since the use of large numbers of human graders is not a viable possibility. Most of our success has come from testing a change with willing colleagues and presenting the whole group with a comparison of the new and traditional approaches. Change slowly gets accepted and becomes the norm under those circumstances.
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