P874: Building information literacy in first-year chemistry students through student-centered learning and experimental design

Author: Margaret Bruehl, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Co-Author: Denise Pan and Ignacio Ferrer-Vinent, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Date: 8/6/14

Time: 2:25 PM2:45 PM

Room: MAK B1112

Related Symposium: S61

This presentation describes two curriculum modules developed for first-year general chemistry laboratory courses which introduce the scientific literature and creative experiment design to build information literacy and support a student-centered learning environment. The intention of these curriculum units is to expose a population of general chemistry students to the scientific literature and its role in experimental design and scientific discovery. By introducing literature search resources available from our campus library and the internet, we establish a level of information literacy in these beginning science students which supports their development of reasoning and critical thinking abilities. Activities in the modules are mapped to the core competencies of information literacy and the student-centered learning environment where the student is an active participant in his or her own learning. The modules were delivered in a three-year case study of honors chemistry students at the University of Colorado Denver. Initial findings from a longitudinal survey of student self-assessed attitudes and beliefs suggest that introducing the scientific literature and information literacy skills in first-year chemistry courses provide immediate and long-term benefits to student performance and engagement in the sciences.

P174: Experimental design as a mechanism for exposing first-year chemistry students to an authentic scientific research experience

Author: Margaret Bruehl, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Co-Author: Denise Pan and Ignacio J Ferrer-Vinent, University of Colorado Denver, USA

Date: 8/4/14

Time: 9:55 AM10:15 AM

Room: MAK B1100

Related Symposium: S19

This presentation describes a project for second semester general chemistry laboratory courses which introduces creative experiment design as a mechanism to expose students to authentic science. The multi-week project entitled “Design Your Own General Chemistry Laboratory Experiment” provides a comprehensive experience in experimental design, including literature research, proposing a hypothesis, developing a procedure, experimentation, documentation, and presentation phases. During the project, students self-direct their work and critically evaluate their ideas. Two lab periods are provided for iterative experimentation, during which students are challenged to use the scientific literature to resolve issues and refine their ideas by reviewing existing data and experiments to put their work into the larger scientific context. Students experience the practical value of comparing their own work to published literature describing alternate procedures, data collection and analysis techniques. In the final documentation and presentation phases of the project, students use oral and written reports to formally communicate their new general chemistry experiment, as well as their experience in the design and revision of their experiment. By exposing the grey areas of defining and refining hypotheses and collecting and interpreting data, students experience the creativity and open-ended nature of scientific research. Ultimately, this shows students how scientists think and starts them on their way to developing their own scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills. Student gains are measured using embedded, mixed-methodology, and longitudinal assessments and surveys to determine immediate and long-term benefits to student performance and development.