PART I. CHEMISTRY FOR THE COMMUNITY: A CURRICULUM-WIDE COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATION MODEL PART II. CREATIVE EXERCISES AS AN ASSESSMENT METHOD OF STUDENT UNDERSTANDING OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
Christopher F Bauer
Yi Jin K Gorske
Completed in collaboration with Saint Joseph’s College of Maine (St. Joe’s), this report describes the assessment of Chemistry for the Community, an education model that incorporates community service projects as part of the entire chemistry curriculum at St. Joe’s. The mixed-methods study was conducted over three years, including both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, to assess the student perceptions and benefits of the service learning (SL) projects. This assessment is included in the first part of this report, looking at the journeys students followed to complete each project, as well as the changes in student discernment of building professional skills and their identities as scientists. This also includes a discussion on the impact of the switch to remote/hybrid learning, as well as the impact of different design elements in student views towards the projects and the perceived benefits of completing them. Results indicate that students generally found the projects beneficial to their learning of chemistry and building transferable skills required in the work force like teamwork, project management, and public speaking. It was also found that the changes made to accommodate the remote learning requirements during the pandemic affected student views on the projects, with many seeing them as less stressful but also less beneficial to their learning. Analysis of design impacts indicate that students prefer to experience these types of projects in person, with scaffolding and guidance provided by the instructor. This helps guide the students to understand the importance of the projects to the various community partners, as well as themselves and their peers. The second half of this report looks at student work completed in the Organic Chemistry I/II sequence course, concurrently beside the SL projects. The open-ended assessment style, known as creative exercises (CE), was originally introduced as an evaluation method for evidence of students learning the class material covered in the SL projects. Results indicate that although creative exercises used were not useful for determining if students learn chemistry topics better while completing SL projects, they do provide insight into student thinking about various chemistry topics. Qualitative analysis of student responses showed that the majority of organic chemistry students struggle to connect topics across units, and often fail to provide complete explanations of organic chemistry phenomena. Further analysis shows that the question design can be impactful on drawing students out of their comfort zones to have them explain their responses and try to think critically about their class material. Overall, it was found that creative exercises provide instructors with important insight into their students’ level of thinking, which may then impact how the instructor teaches future course materials.
Green, Alexa, "PART I. CHEMISTRY FOR THE COMMUNITY: A CURRICULUM-WIDE COMMUNITY-BASED EDUCATION MODEL PART II. CREATIVE EXERCISES AS AN ASSESSMENT METHOD OF STUDENT UNDERSTANDING OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations. 2768.