P231: Enriching the chemistry curriculum with in-depth experiences
In-depth courses at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University (CSBSJU) integrate knowledge from foundation courses and expand problem-solving skills, including identifying problems within a specific field, evaluating quality of data, and evaluating arguments. I will focus on an environmental chemistry course where a traditional textbook is available to students for reference but the majority of the reading material will come from the primary literature. Class time is spent discussing current research in small groups as well as with the entire class. Discussion questions are initially provided and then developed by the students for group led discussions. In addition, student achievement of learning goals is assessed individually with exams and papers. Cumulative exams are regularly given where questions are focused to one particular research article. They also prepare weekly reaction papers on current environmental issues. These methods will improve students’ oral and written communication and critical thinking skills.