- Development of Guided Inquiry laboratory experiments for General and Organic Chemistry
Current Chemistry Education Research
Two areas of chemical education research in which I am engaged are: studies designed to determine how students learn; and the development and dissemination of classroom and laboratory materials that will improve student learning. With the aid of a 2002 National Science Foundation (NSF), 4-year grant of $1.5 million, colleagues at Franklin & Marshall College, SUNY-Stony Brook (Stony Brook University), College of Charleston, and The Catholic University of America and I have established the POGIL Project.
POGIL is a classroom and laboratory technique that seeks to simultaneously teach content and key process skills such as the ability to think analytically and work effectively as part of a collaborative team.
A POGIL classroom or lab consists of any number of students working in small groups on specially designed guided inquiry materials. These materials supply students with data or information followed by leading questions designed to guide them toward formulation of their own valid conclusions - essentially a recapitulation of the scientific method. The instructor serves as facilitator, observing and periodically addressing individual and classroom-wide needs.
POGIL is based on research indicating that
a) teaching by telling does not work for most students,
b) students who are part of an interactive community are more likely to be successful, and
c) knowledge is personal; students enjoy themselves more and develop greater ownership over the material when they are given an opportunity to construct their own understanding.
We have found that a discovery-based team environment energizes students and provides instructors with instant and constant feedback about what their students understand and misunderstand. Students quickly pick up the message that logical thinking and teamwork are prized above simply getting “the correct answer.” This emphasizes that learning is not a solitary task of memorizing information, but an interactive process of refining one’s understanding and developing one’s skills. (See http://www.pogil.org)
In October 2006, NSF awarded an additional $1.9 million to extend the POGIL Project through 2010.
- B.S., Merrimack College, 1961
- Ph.D., Fordham University, 1966