Teacher Professional Development

Presider: Mary Virginia Orna

The lead-off speaker for this session, Edward P. Zovinka of Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA (co-authors Rose A Clark, Allison L Felix) spoke of “STEMing the flow: Connecting undergraduates with applied science” through a summer residential program for rising high school. Once students were on campus, Peer-Led Team Learning experiences in many introductory STEM classes and undergraduate research opportunities were made available. All activities allowed students to work closely with faculty and upper-level science majors as mentors. He showed statistics that indicated an appreciable retention rate of these STEP student in their original STEM majors. Mark B. Cannon of Brigham Young University-Hawaii followed with his paper, “Reinforcing 1st-year foundational principles in chemistry majors during the 2nd year.” One of the objectives of his project was to measure the benefits that peer-tutoring have on tutors themselves. They turned out to be review and reinforcement, and a need-to-know connection to the tutored material. Additional benefits were an increase in self-concept, better retention than for non-tutors, and a significant increase in their ACS General Chemistry Examination scores. In his paper, “Early, practical assessment of teaching tools for general chemistry,” David S. Heroux, University of Maine at Farmington, spoke of the importance and benefits of early assessment of general chemistry students, even prior to the first examination. Emphasis was placed on how students saw various teaching tools and strategies as helpful to their learning so that they would be able to see their usefulness for the remainder of the course. Following the intermission, Michael P. Castellani of Marshall University, Huntington, WV (co-author James Sottile), in his talk, “Relationship between college chemistry pass rates/grades and high school grades,” presented evidence that there is a correlation between students’ “risk factors” and their pass rates in general chemistry after reviewing data that showed that 58% of students passed on their first try, but that again 58% of students passed on their second try. The question was: how can we raise the pass rate? They found that students with “0” risk factors had an 84% pass rate, whereas those with one or two risk factors had almost equal pass rates of on average 45%, the watershed being a single risk factor!

Mary Virginia Orna of The College of New Rochelle (co-author Jeffrey I Seeman, University of Richmond, Richmond) in the paper “Women chemists in the National Inventors Hall of Fame: A website with pedagogical potential” called attention to the various ways that a website (www.layingthegroundwork.com/inventors) developed following a symposium of the same name at the spring 2008 National ACS Meeting in New Orleans, could enable teachers to insert meaningful human achievements by women chemist inventors into their curriculum.

Finally, David B. Pushkin of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia made an impassioned plea in his paper, “Please stop calling them misconceptions!” to recognize the fact that such a term is inappropriate for students’ evolving scientific ideas that are more amorphous and heterogeneous early on, and become more sophisticated later. He suggested as a more appropriate term, “pseudoconceptions,” to reflect the reality of this evolution.