A New Venue for Younger Chemistry Education Scholars to Turn for Advice

By Kimberly Linenberger

With the beginning of a new year and a new semester the Younger Chemistry Education Scholars Task Force decided this was the best time to roll out the new blog. As Chair of the YCES Task Force, I was asked to make the inaugural post to welcome one and all to the site!

Traditionally, as I have been told, chemistry education scholars have been self-taught and few were trained in the discipline; however, times have changed. With a current count of 36 institutions across the U.S. that award a graduate degree in chemistry education, more and more chemists are graduating with specific training in chemistry education research. The issue still arises that from my experiences interacting with fellow graduate students there is not a large crop of CER students in all of these institutions to turn to for advice or “tricks of the trade,” resulting in “lone islands.” Members of the community have made great use of social media outlets available such as Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter to keep in touch and ask questions of one another, but we as a task force felt there needed to be a central location for this information thus sprung the impetus for this blog.

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This blog will serve as a resource for young chemistry education scholars looking for advice on how to get through the tedious task of transcribing data, where to look for postdoctoral appointments in CER, and tips on how to get through the first year of a faculty position. There are many blogs out there already that tackle these ideas, but none that are focused specifically for members of the CER community. There are just some things others don’t understand that members of the CER community can relate to, such as other graduate students questioning why you would ever want to be on RA, or faculty colleagues stopping by awestruck by what their students scored on an “easy” exam. This blog will eventually get at these topics. However, this blog is not just for those in the YCES community but also for faculty who were once graduate students, postdocs, or young faculty members. This may be a way to also open lines of communication and form new partnerships between the generations.

Topics addressed herein will come from the suggestions of the community and will be responded to by knowledgeable people in the field. Essentially this will be a “here’s how I got through it. Maybe it will work for you?” approach, with appropriate literature thrown in along the way (we are of course still academics). We envision this being an open forum for those in the community to visit and post comments. We will have guest bloggers for each topic with new posts bi-weekly. The guest blogger will be encouraged to interact with those people commenting to create open discussions.
My charge to you as readers of the blog is to think of those little things along your CER journey that you really wish you had known before and let us hear about them. This will give us an even better idea of what the community would like to see going forward. I look forward to seeing the upcoming discussions unfold and hopefully connecting some of the “lone islands” in the CER community! 

Kimberly Linenberger is a postdoctoral research associate with the American Chemical Society Examinations Institute. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry with an emphasis in Chemistry Education Research from Miami University under the direction of Dr. Stacey Lowery Bretz in December 2011. She will begin as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education at Kennesaw State University in August 2013. For more information on her research and publications please visit her website http://linenbkj.wix.com/kimlinenberger

Would like to see a post discussing grand funding options

Jessica, I came to CER with a similar misconception, and I agree that it is still alive and well among many more traditional chemists. I've found, though, that people are generally willing to engage in a productive, thoughtful conversation about what it means to be a CER specialist, so the misconception can be corrected at least some of the time.

(Also: thanks to you and Mike for getting this blog up and running!)

Kim, this is a really great introductory post. One topic about which I was and still am particularly curious is grants - I know there are a number of NSF grants that are relevant for education-related research at various levels, and it would be great to see a future post that discusses these funding options and what kinds of research are eligible and most appropriate for each.

Thanks for your comment Mary

Thanks for your comment Mary Beth. I agree being able to discern what the programmatic relevance of proposed research is a really important skill and we will definitely add it to our list of topics!

CER is more than just being an effective instructor in classroom

Thanks for the great post, Kim!

I am looking forward to engaging in discussion with other readers about the topics presented on the blog.

I noticed your charge to readers was to think about little things in our CER journeys and comment on them. I think I came to CER with the misconception that because I liked teaching and was good at it, I understood what CER was all about. I quickly learned that CER is much more than just being an effective instructor in the classroom, but unfortunately the misconception still exists within institutions. Has anyone else had this same misconception or ever felt like their research is misunderstood in a more traditional chemistry department?

What other things stand out to you (readers) as influential on your CER journey?

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