Introducing Project Based Labs and Cooperative Learning
into the Instrumental Analysis Course.

Charles M. Hosten Department of Chemistry

 
    
The Carnegie Commission has published "Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Universities". Two of the recommendations of this commission were that "students must learn how to convey the results of their work effectively both orally and in writing", and that "inquiry based courses should allow for collaborative efforts." The Commission's recommendations are rooted in the belief that learning is based on discovery guided by mentoring, rather than on the transmission of information. These recommendations form the basis for changes being made in the Instrumental Analysis Lecture and Laboratory courses, in the Department of Chemistry at Howard University. The changes to the Instrumental Analysis Laboratory implement two successful curriculum reforms, project based labs and cooperative learning. The laboratory course will be modified to have students work in small groups on a seven week lab project. The lab projects were selected to be relevant to our students, and bear on their career interests. Working in small groups will introduce cooperative learning into the laboratory. The lecture component of the course is being changed to implement service based learning, and emphasize scientific writing. The redesigned lecture will increase students' exposure to recent advances in instrumental techniques, improve their oral and writing skills, and explore the role of the analytical chemist in shaping public policy.

    One broader impact of this curriculum revision will be the nurturing and development of a cadre of minority chemists who are proficient working in teams, can formulate and carry out research projects, and can present their findings to fellow scientists. These revisions will result in minority chemistry graduates better prepared for careers in industry, teaching or research. The project has built in implementation, progress and summative evaluation, as well as dissemination strategies targeted to other HBCUs.