P1032: Class-style TA training in Penn State’s general chemistry labs

Author: Joe Keiser, Penn State University, USA

Co-Author: Jing Dong and Mary Shoemaker, Penn State University, USA

Date: 8/7/14

Time: 10:15 AM10:35 AM

Room: LTT 103

Related Symposium: S77

Penn State has developed a number of approaches to training, supervising, and coaching TAs in our general chemistry lab. The most important component is an accelerated version of the lab course that is taught in the week or two before the start of each semester. A top TA from the previous year is hired to serve as a TA for this class. The new TAs are the students. They complete all of the experiments for a grade under the same conditions as the students. The experienced TA models all of the roles of a TA: prelab talks, lab management, and grading. The new TAs observe and experience all of these things under the dynamic conditions of a real class. All of the typical problems occur – some students come late and unprepared, some don’t wear their eye protection, some are unhappy about their grades, some drop their samples on the floor, etc. All of these matters are handled in a similar way to how they are handled with undergraduate students. At the end of this class awards are given to top performers, and those below minimum standards are reassigned to non-teaching duties. The TA Trainers then become “Section Supervisors”, and are involved with observing and coaching TAs throughout the semester. This system has been in place for over 20 years and it works well. Details will be presented.

P5: Food science version of general chemistry lab

Author: Joe Keiser, Penn State University, USA

Co-Author: Matt Langston and Brendan Nicholson, Penn State University, USA

Date: 8/3/14

Time: 3:40 PM4:00 PM

Room: MAK B1138

Related Symposium: S1

Penn State’s general chemistry lab program offers a variety of “specialty sections” of general chemistry II lab in addition to the mainstream course. These specialty sections include a biology section, a material science section, and an environmental science section. Currently we are piloting a fourth specialty section with a food science theme. The current pilot includes experiments on fats and oils, leavening agents, cheese making, antioxidants, ester synthesis, and sugars. Details will be presented.