Especially JCE: December 2018

December 2018 J. Chem. Educ. issue cover

Technology is a regular part of students’ lives. From the constant presence of smartphones to the use of online tools to prepare or submit homework to the automatic understanding of the phrase “google it” to streaming digital content, it is woven into the fabric of their existence. Two articles in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education focus on the use of technology with chemistry students both inside and outside of class time.

Using Text Messages To Encourage Meaningful Self-Assessment Outside of the Classroom (available to JCE subscribers) by Herrington and Sweeder outlines a system they implemented in university-level general chemistry courses with free-to-use Remind and Google Forms tools. If you haven’t heard of Remind or used it before (I’m included in that group), you can get a mini crash course on it using links at Remind’s Professional Development Resource Guide. The authors used it to easily send out text messages throughout the term to a classroom group outside of class time, with a link to a question within Google Forms each time. The choice of technology was based on the idea that it “meets our students where they are most comfortable.” Questions were designed by instructors to “go beyond typical multiple choice or calculations. … to elicit evidence about what students know and can do with that knowledge as well as provide students with an opportunity to self-assess their understanding and practice using their chemistry knowledge to construct explanations.” For example, a question asked them to relate the energy needed to break a particular bond to the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum through calculations, then to use their results as support for an explanation of why it is important to use sunscreen. Text messages on a particular concept were sent soon after that content was covered in class. Instructors viewed student responses to help inform teaching for upcoming class periods. They also used example student responses (made anonymous) during class time for group tasks and discussion, such as identifying claims, evidence, and reasoning, and how explanations could be improved. You can also see Ben Meacham’s ChemEd X blog post Implementing the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning Framework in the Chemistry Classroom for details about using CER in the classroom. 

The Chemistry Connections Challenge: Encouraging Students to Connect Course Concepts with Real-World Applications (available to JCE subscribers) by Morra aims for engagement by linking what they are studying in class to real-world examples, through regular Chemistry Connections digital slides. The author shared pre-generated slides during class to familiarize students with the format and gist of the Connections. Eventually, each student created his or her own slide, which was evaluated on a pass/fail system using a rubric. Students were given a chance to share their slides on a class Web site so fellow students could see them. Creators of particularly high-quality slides were invited to present their slides in class. Morra shares 15 PowerPoint student- and instructor-generated slides in the online Supporting Info. Although they are keyed toward Morra’s university-level introductory organic chemistry content, they provide some useful examples. In addition, the graphic in the abstract suggests other topic ideas of potential interest to students, such as gastronomy, cosmetics, and natural products. Classes could consider using ideas from the American Chemical Society’s ChemMatters magazine and infographics at Compound Interest.

More from the December 2018 Issue

Be sure to check out Mary Saecker’s round-up of this issue at JCE 95.12 December 2018 Issue Highlights, particularly if you were interested in the two articles mentioned in this post. Each month, Mary takes the individual pieces of the issue and ties them together into larger concept groupings. For example, you’ll find the Herrington and Sweeder text message article under the heading “Innovative Approaches To Promote Student Engagement,” with several other articles. Morra’s Connections Challenge idea is brought together with other articles and labs on “Connecting Concepts with Real-World Applications.”

Is there another article from the past that has led to you using technology in a different way in your classroom? Share! Add a comment to this post, or submit a contribution form if you'd like to write a longer blog post. Questions? Contact us using the ChemEd Xcontact form