Working with the First-Year Laboratory Coordinator allows for hands-on experience for research students in his group to design laboratories, test experiments, and design assessments that will be used in the classroom. These tested improvements inform the decisions the Department of Chemistry makes in how to most effectively teach their laboratory courses. The primary research goals for this project are to design a framework for evaluating and revising the General Chemistry Laboratories which includes current research in:
What activities motivate students to pursue science?
What activities encourage critical thinking about the underlying chemistry?
How should pre-lab exercises prepare students for more rigorous experiments and instruments with higher learning curves?
How can we leverage group work and shared data sets to enhance student learning and develop their professional skills needed in the workforce?
What pedagogies are most appropriate for learning critical writing skills?
Using the expansive literature in all of these sub-disciplines (or really, cross-disciplinary literature from educational psychology, to education research, to science education research, and cognitive psychology), we will elucidate a set of criteria that can be used to continuously evaluate the quality of the educational experience for students and give constructive feedback for improvement. This involves development of statistical methods, novel laboratory assessment tools, and new laboratory curricula. This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of Chemistry, Education, and Psychology. However the project is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Chemistry.