P747: Reading, writing, and arithmetic: Is there a better balance for engaging physical chemistry students?
The rise in popularity of life science careers and an unexpected stint as the director of a college writing center pushed me to reconsider content and pedagogy of the physical chemistry sequence. Hoping to engage students who eschew traditional means of learning p-chem, I revised learning goals and strategies informed by the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) Project, composition theory, and the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training. To help students meet these goals, new activities and approaches were developed. Specific examples that will be shared include POGIL materials augmented with computer math exercises, summaries of student writing responses, and an approach to mathematics that does not rely on calculus “by hand.” Qualitative assessments suggest that irrespective of incoming attitudes, most students develop more expert learning attitudes with this approach. However, there are associated liabilities including omitting portions of the undergraduate p-chem canon and less facility with traditional math skills.