ACELL Workshop: Advancing Chemistry by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory

Location: 
Purdue University
City, State: 
West Lafayette, IN
Instructor(s): 
MaryKay Orgill (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), Nathan Barrows (Grand Valley State University), and George M. Bodner (Purdue University)
Date: 
20 May 2012 - 23 May 2012

 

cCWCS is pleased for partner with the ACELL NSF-TUES project in advertising this new workshop.

Download workshop brochure

Link to ACELL's site

In theory, the chemistry laboratory offers unique opportunities for students to practice “doing” science and to form links between phenomena that can be seen by  naked eye and atomic- and molecular-scale interpretations of these phenomena. Laboratories can also stimulate and motivate students to learn more about science. Unfortunately, science education research suggests that the potential of the laboratory environment is seldom realized in practice. The primary goal of ACELL is to provide professional development to general chemistry faculty by expanding their understanding of teaching and learning in the instructional laboratory environment. To meet this goal, ACELL is holding a workshop May 20–23, 2012, in which 24 faculty will work alongside 24 undergraduate students from the same institutions to:

  • experience a variety of new laboratory approaches that research suggests are more successful at conveying the practice of science to students;
  • examine their beliefs about the role of laboratory education in light of current educational research; and
  • analyze and revise more traditional chemistry laboratory experiments to make them engaging and meaningful for students.

A Unique Laboratory Learning Experience

Student participants are an important component of the ACELL professional development model. Each faculty participant will bring an undergraduate student with them to the ACELL summer workshop, where faculty and undergraduate students will work together to learn more about research-based laboratory pedagogies.

A Typical Workshop Day

Each morning, faculty and student participants will:

  • Experience a research-based laboratory activity (i.e., a discovery lab, an inquiry-based lab, or a lab supported by the Science Writing Heuristic)
  • Discuss educational issues associated with learning in the laboratory environment, including the advantages and disadvantages of different laboratory teaching and learning styles

Each afternoon, faculty and student participants will:

  • Complete a participant-submitted laboratory activity
  • Compare and contrast the day’s activities
  • Suggest ways to improve student learning in the laboratory environment

Day 1: The workshop begins with dinner and an introduction to the ACELL project. After dinner, participants will discuss instructors’ views of learning in the laboratory environment and factors affecting students’ learning experiences in the laboratory environment.

Day 2: This day’s focus will be on discovery laboratory activities. In addition to completing a discovery laboratory activity, participants will discuss the benefits and constraints of discovery laboratory activities. Other activities will focus on identifying the potential outcomes of laboratory learning and on aligning laboratory activities with learning goals.

Day 3: This day’s focus will be on inquiry-based laboratory activities. In addition to completing an inquiry-based laboratory activity, participants will discuss different variations of inquiry and the benefits and constraints of inquiry-based laboratory activities. Other activities will include an analysis of laboratory activities for evidence of higher-order cognitive skills.

Day 4: The focus of the final day of the workshop will be on using the Science Writing Heuristic to support inquiry-based laboratory activities. In addition to completing an inquiry-based laboratory activity supported by the Science Writing Heuristic, participants will discuss the benefits and challenges of implementing research-based laboratory pedagogies, as well as ways to modify laboratory activities to meet an institution’s needs and constraints. Time in the afternoon will be devoted to introducing and brainstorming action research projects. The workshop ends with a dinner. 

Through participation in Project ACELL, general chemistry faculty will:

  • Discuss and analyze factors related to learning in the laboratory environment
  • Gain first-hand experience with research-based laboratory pedagogies
  • Work side-by-side and network with faculty and students from across the nation
  • Critically examine laboratory activities from their home institutions
  • Reflect on the role of the laboratory learning environment at their home institutions
  • Become part of a community of scholars focused on improving general chemistry laboratory education

Who could benefit from participating in the ACELL project?

  • Faculty involved in college- or university-level general chemistry laboratory instruction or curriculum development
  • Faculty interested in improving the general chemistry laboratory by learning more about research-based laboratory pedagogies.

Expenses Covered (for both faculty and student participants):

  • Four nights accommodation
  • Travel reimbursement up to a maximum of $250
  • Workshop materials
  • Working meals