P891: Teaching assistant boot camp: A professional development for chemistry teaching assistants

Author: Vanessa Fishback, University of Colorado at Denver, USA

Co-Author: Priscilla Burrow and Marta Maron, University of Colorado at Denver, USA

Date: 8/6/14

Time: 3:05 PM3:25 PM

Room: HON 148

Related Symposium: S64

Over the past ten years undergraduate enrollment in the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) chemistry department has increased by 111%. As a solution to the higher enrollment of students and increased number of laboratory sections, UCD incorporated undergraduate teaching assistants (TAs) into the faculty to conduct recitations and/or run laboratory sections. Most teaching assistants, graduate or undergraduate, have little or no teaching experience, knowledge of pedagogical techniques, or the time management skills necessary to be an effective TA. We developed a one week training program to address these issues and to provide a network of support for the TAs’ chemical content knowledge and laboratory techniques. Additionally, we hope to introduce the TAs to a teaching community that will allow them to work collaboratively and develop a cohesive team between the TAs, laboratory staff, and supervising faculty. The experience of being an undergraduate TA is an integral part of the professional development of the students so much so that we actively recruit almost all of our chemistry majors into the TA program. Our TA training program could be implemented by any school not relying on graduate TAs or could be adapted for graduate TA training. Development, implementation, and assessment of the program will be described.

P411: Acid-base student models in organic chemistry

Author: Curtis Bustos, University of Colorado at Denver, USA

Co-Author: Kristina Bueter, Maile Hiu, Hunter Chase, Vanessa Fishback and Priscilla Burrow,University of Colorado at Denver, USA

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 11:30 AM11:50 AM

Room: LMH 176

Related Symposium: S3

Instructors and textbooks are not always clear in the use of models and how they can be useful learning and thinking tools. Instructors and textbooks tend to conveniently alternate between specific models and sometimes transfer attributes from one model to another resulting in hybrid models that may prove to be difficult to teach and learn. Acid-base chemistry is the foundation for chemical reactions in organic chemistry, but many different models are used to explain it. A learning assistant initiated research study was conducted on science and pre-health students in an organic II lecture course in order to investigate students’ understanding of acid-base models. The study consisted of answering two questions: How would you describe acid-base chemistry? How would you describe the integer 3? Acid-base chemistry answers were varied and categorized into four groups. 2% didn’t know or simply confessed to not knowing how to answer the question, 6% were able to differentiate between models and explain their application when appropriate, 33% described acids and bases as having a best model or one that describes all acid-base chemistry reactions, and 59% combined and described hybrid models. Describing the integer 3 did not prove to have any confusion. These initial findings inspired subsequent learning assistants in the organic chemistry courses to work with the organic and general chemistry instructors to develop assessment materials to track students’ acid-base model development from general chemistry I through organic chemistry II with the goal of providing timely intervention to combat misconceptions and model confusion.

P412: Use of learning assistants in organic chemistry

Author: Vanessa Fishback, University of Colorado at Denver, USA

Co-Author:

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 11:50 AM12:10 PM

Room: LMH 176

Related Symposium: S3

Learning assistants are undergraduate students paid a modest stipend to help transform large lecture science classes into an interactive and collaborative learning environment for students. Learning assistants interact with students during breakout problem solving sessions asking conceptual questions and helping students with the conceptual underpinnings of the problems. The Learning assistants have taken the course they are assisting in previously and are selected based on their performance in the course, personality traits and interest in teaching interactions with peers. We have been using learning assistants in general chemistry and organic chemistry courses consistently for four semesters. Learning assistants who are in their first semester take a pedagogy course in addition to working with us in the classroom. As part of the pedagogy course they perform a chemical education research project with the intent of providing insight into teaching or learning or development of innovative materials to enhance learning. We are interested in providing a more authentic research experience for the learning assistants. The goal is to provide this experience and reap the findings of the research in order to enhance the classroom students’ conceptual understanding of a broad and significant topic in chemistry. We are also interested in incorporating learning assistants into the laboratories and conducted a pilot study during the Spring 2014 Semester. A description of our program and our three pronged approach to utilizing learning assistants in lecture and laboratory settings will be presented.