Chem Connections

Mission Statement

The mission of our program was: To develop new curricula, materials and methods to enhance the appreciation and learning of science, especially chemistry, for every undergraduate student such that all college graduates will command the knowledge and skills necessary to permit continued learning, to lead productive lives, and to make informed decisions.

Project Overview

  • We were funded by the National Science Foundation to restructure the undergraduate chemistry curriculum.
  • Wedeveloped and evaluated a modular approach to teaching chemistry in the first two years of the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Modules of one to four weeks present fundamental chemistry to students in the context of a real-world problem or application and emphasize the links between chemistry and other disciplines.
  • Curriculum materials, including text, lab, and multimedia components suitable for students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and usable at a wide variety of undergraduate institutions, were produced.
  • These materials utilize current understanding of learning processes and the full spectrum of modern technologies and fully involve students as participants in the learning process.
  • Teaching methods which emphasize active learning and new technologies are supported, tested and promulgated.
  • A model support infrastructure for development and assessment of new materials and methods is provided.

What is a module?

A module opens with an initial session that asks an important question and assesses student knowledge related to that question in order to set the context for subsequent activities. Intermediate sessions explore various aspects of the overall question by breaking it down into essential sub-questions, gathering and working with relevant information through a variety of activities in class, in the laboratory, with media, and as homework to develop an answer to the immediate question. The instructor chooses which explorations to include, and to what depth, in order to tailor student experiences to the goals of the course and the level and preparation of the students. A final session provides closure to the module through a culminating event such as a paper, poster presentation, debate, or experiment to "put it all together" by having students answer the module question and communicate their answers to peers. Modules can be used in several ways in the classroom, depending on instructor preference. Some faculty may choose to use modules for their entire course, while others may use only one or two modules to add a relevant topic of current interest to their existing curriculum. The modular approach is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of teaching and learning environments.

How do I become involved?

For more information contact Brock Spencer or Eileen Lewis.

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Last modified: 10/5/00 at 5:11 PM
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