College of Science and Mathematics
California Polytechnic State University
We have modified the traditional general chemistry course to stress concepts and applications attuned to our engineering clientele as well as to introduce current technology. In order to "fit more" into the first course especially, we have focused on the stated prerequisite expectations - a high school or college prep chemistry course. Up until the Fall Quarter of 1994, 3-5 weeks of Chemistry 124 were spent reviewing fundamental concepts such as balancing equations, stoichiometry, gas laws, and nomenclature. We now begin with thermochemistry (see current instructor web pages for Chem 124 and 125) and administer a short diagnostic quiz within the first week of classes. Students receive the results of the diagnostic immediately along with recommendations for review chapters and tutoring. With the use of Blackboard course management software, the diagnostic quiz as well as end-of-quarter student evaluations are web-based.
Within the studio classroom format, subject matter is arranged in modules containing laboratory exercises leading to concept development and internet resource investigations. An instructor is able to plan the order and duration of learning activities for maximum personal effectiveness. The availability of efficient data acquisition hardware and software as well as connectivity to internet resources adds to the versatility and effectiveness of instruction and allows for educational experimentation, situations heretofore unknown in our department. Faculty members work as teaching teams sharing methods, worksheets, ideas, problems, and insight. No longer is an instructor isolated in terms of being present only in the lecture or laboratory. The process is "full body chemistry" - a total involvement physically and mentally in the environment and process of student learning.
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