P646: Guided inquiry sessions to supplement a large lecture course: Aiding and retaining struggling students
Our general chemistry course is taught as a 3 hour/week lecture to sections of 30-40 students. The high school chemistry preparation for students in the course varies widely. Some students have taken two years of high school chemistry or advanced placement courses and others having had weak preparation and/or have weak math skills. To increase retention of students who are poorly prepared for a rigorous college chemistry course, we offer two supplemental meetings twice a week specifically for the students who are struggling with the material. Before the semester begins, we invite students who had struggled with high school chemistry to join the supplemental sessions. After the first exam, students who did very poorly on the exam and are not already attending the sessions are also invited to come. Of approximately 200 students in the introductory chemistry course, 25-30 students are invited to the supplemental sessions. In the sessions, the students work in groups of 3-4 on guided inquiry lessons under the supervision of the instructor/facilitator. Struggling students receive more personal attention during these sessions, and the chemistry concepts are reinforced by the guided inquiry method. We have found that students with poor grades on initial quizzes and exams who then attend supplemental sessions are more likely to successfully finish the course than those who do not. Faculty time is used more effectively when we gather a group of students in need of extra help in the guided inquiry sessions.