Greetings ChemEd Xchange Community:
My name is Scott Donnelly, editor for the Two Year College (TYC) component of ChemEd Xchange. This is my first of what likely will be many contributions over the coming years. Since this is my inaugural post as the TYC editor perhaps I should let you all know a bit about myself and my educational philosophy.
A Bit About Myself: I'm an outdoor enthusiast (preferring a forest or lake or canyon- bugs included- to four walls anytime), am a hobbyist woodworker, have recently taken up the ancient art of archery (recurve and flatbows), love to canoe (Voyageurs National Park is at the top of the list), teach a Zombie Apocalypse wilderness survival class at 'my' college, am a Search And Rescue (SAR) deputy, would have chosen- if I could do it all over again- to be a mapmaker/cartographer instead of a chemistry faculty, and once I retire want to begin a second career as a national park ranger (preferably in Glacier or North Cascades National Parks). What better way to make a small amount of money than take people on leisurely hikes across and through breath-taking landscapes.
Educational Philosophy: With missionary zeal I've taught the gospel of general and organic chemistry at Arizona Western College (AWC) in Yuma, AZ since 1995. During the past 24 years I've had a variety of faculty and quasi-administrative positions. Like many of you I've seen instructional ideas come and go while some though have endured and now are commonly interpreted as 'Business as usual.' Having taught the full spectrum of chemistry classes full-time to over 5000+ students, I postulate- based on empirical experience and observations- that there really is no one teaching style or method that always (the key word) delivers a constantly high educational "bang for the buck" ratio. Not surprisingly, as I've experienced numerous times a specific teaching method or approach for a certain topic will fail perhaps miserably one semester while the next semester with a different group of students the same method is a rousing success.
Predicting the success or failure- however such indicators are defined by the faculty doing the method- of a particular teaching method with some acceptable degree of accuracy or even predictability is- to me at least via my 'boots on the ground' experience- not reliable. For me after doing this for nearly a quarter of a century the best way to find out the efficacy of a teaching method is rather straight forward- 1) keep it relatively simple, 2) then try it, 3) modify if necessary, and 4) try it again before possibly forgoing it if deemed by the faculty as unsuccessful after repeated attempts. Any teaching method, even the highly criticized and unfairly vilified lecture method, when done properly and well, will, for most motivated students, be effective in accomplishing its intended outcomes.