Especially JCE: August 2018

JCE cover for August 2018 issue

My summertime Twitter feed carries a definite chemistry conference flavor. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to vicariously experience the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE), with Tweets from attendees highlighting specific speakers, slides, and ideas. I expect (and hope) it will be the same next week during the teacher program at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Boston. Reading about some of the past and future happenings of these two conferences in the recent XChange posts and brought home to me the sheer amount of content offered during the conferences by presenters.

With this on my mind, one of the opening abstract sentences in the August 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education jumped out at me, along with its title. (available to JCE subscribers) abstract begins: “It is essential that chemists develop strong oral communication skills.”

Authors Applebee, et al. bring an activity related to this soft skill to an upper-division undergraduate seminar. They have two exercises: 1) Third-year students speak for three minutes (no script) about one assigned graphics-based slide prepared by the instructor; 2) Fourth-year students do the same, but prepare their own single graphics-based slide. Some of the goals the authors outline are:

  • To build confidence in speaking without a script
  • To convey points about a graphic effectively to an audience
  • To avoid overuse of text and reading verbatim off slides
  • To improve overall slide design

Although the authors used the activity on the college level, helping high school (and even middle school) students to work toward these goals would be valuable, with relevance to future college- or work-related presentations or just being comfortable speaking at a job interview. The already compact three-minute time limit could be cut further, since the slides would be less complex. The activity could be an opportunity for an interdisciplinary connection with another teacher, such as an English class’s speech unit or a class where students learn to use presentation software.

The authors provide a sample slide deck of instructor-prepared slides as part of the article’s online supporting material, but the majority are much more advanced than a high school student would feel comfortable with. Easy slide sources could be figures from a course textbook. Student slide presentations could also serve as a class-wide review of a chapter before a test.

Have you integrated building student oral communication skills in your courses? What have you found most effective?

More from the August 2018 Issue

The August issue has lots of great chem ed reading to pump you up for being back at school. Mary Saecker brings an overview in her  I’m a sucker for (pun intended) ideas for connecting candy to the curriculum—see the cover and related article for more information.

What have you used from the Journal? Share! Start by submitting a , explaining you’d like to contribute to the Especially JCE column. Then, put your thoughts together in a blog post. Questions? Contact us using the ChemEd X .