First-Year Initiative for Chemistry Success: Student-Centered Learning

By Al Armstrong, George Armstrong and Demetria Howard-White.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) method is based on in-class, student group collaborations. College Chemistry requires skilled performances in chemical thinking, chemical vision, critical thinking and problem solving. According to American College Testing Services, ACT, many students enter college scoring below the required scientific math level for college courses. POGIL became the approach to modify and provide meaningful intervention strategies to change this reality. Results showed that three of the four classes who took CHE 104 performed much better in General Chemistry I than students who did not need to take the course, according to their match ACT scores. A Chemistry faculty member attended workshops focused on the national dissemination of the POGIL methods and materials, and thus, the break with traditional methods: lecture (I tell them, they listen, they write) and Lab (they perform). Tougaloo College designed its pre-CHE 115 General Chemistry I course, CHE 104 Chemical Problem Solving, to improve student success using components of the POGIL approach; however, the following components were added: basic math for chemical problems, content reading for understanding chemical knowledge and in-class group lab experiments and cooperative learning.

Keywords: Skill-Driven, Action Approach, Mathematical Concepts, Chemical Problem Solving, Systematic Engagement, Methodical Construction of Knowledge, Scientific Skills, In-Class Lab, Hands-On, Group Activities, Inquiry Learning Process

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.107-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 895.155KB).

Prof. Al Armstrong

Associate Dean of Freshmen, The Comprehensive Academic Resources Program, Academic Affairs, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi, USA

Al Armstrong, Associate Dean for the Comprehensive Academic Resources Program at Tougaloo College teaches strategies for critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills for getting the most from any college reading. Methods, approaches and strategies are used and devised across disciplines to help students transition toward using a systemic approach and key strategies for gathering and using information. Her peers and students recognize her successful innovations for learning.

Dr. George Armstrong

Chair of Chemistry/Professor, Natural Sciences Division, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi, USA

George Armstrong is an experienced research scientist and educator. Research interest include energy from renewable resources and polyurethane for medical implants and nanoparticles control release of molecules in medical applications. He was awarded FAST, (Faculty and Student Team) Department of Energy Summer Research Program, in 2006, 2008,2009 and 2010. Seeking a program to address chemical knowledge need helped him to design the successful Tougaloo Chemical Problem Solving. His teaching interest includes using technology in chemistry courses to enhance learning as well as assessing developing pedagogical methods and strategies to enhanced student success in chemistry. This interest has lead to developing a prerequisite course to prepare students who do not score high enough on the ACT to take the regular General Chemistry course.

Prof. Demetria Howard-White

Chair of Math Department, Natural Sciences Division, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi, USA

Demetria Howard-White is experienced in high school mathematics Pre-algebra, algebra and a GED instructor for the Moving Ahead Program (MAP). She has extensive experience in teaching college mathematical concepts including Pre-math courses and college algebra I, II and advanced courses. She uses technology for enhancing student outcomes and continues to seek for best practices and pedagogical methods and strategies to fuse and increase student success. Peers and students view her as outstanding in her mathematical delivery model.