Guided-Inquiry Multi-day Workshop

Twenty chemistry faculty members representing 13 states and a variety of higher education institutions participated in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops & Community of Scholars (cCWCS) workshop on Teaching Guided-Inquiry Organic Chemistry Laboratories, June 8-13, in the Department of Chemistry.

The workshop was organized and hosted by Department of Chemistry Professor Jane Wissinger in collaboration with Senior Lecturer Tammy Davidson, Ph.D., from the University of Florida. It focused on illustrating how the incorporation of inquiry-based experiments into the laboratory curriculum enhances effective learning for both undergraduate students and graduate student teaching assistants. In contrast to the traditional expository or verification laboratory experiments, the guided-inquiry approach emulates more closely how scientists conduct research and encourages collaboration and discussion of theories and results.

The participants spent three days in the department's teaching laboratories performing two guided-inquiry experiments. They were supported by Laboratory Services Coordinator Patrick Schildt and Senior Laboratory Technicians Christina Youngren and Kristen Cooper. Interactive pre- and post-lab student-led discussions were modeled and facilitated by Wissinger, Davidson, and Teaching Assistants Grant Frost, Sarah Wegwerth, and Brian Woods.

One of the experiments was a new guided-inquiry sustainable polymer experiment developed by Wissinger and Michael Wentzel, Ph.D., as a Center for Sustainable Polymers green chemistry education initiative. Wentzel earned his doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Minnesota in 2011, and is an assistant professor at Augsburg College.

Workshop participants also learned strategies for recasting expository experiments into the various types of inquiry-based experiments as well as developed a personal plan for incorporating the pedagogies at their home institutions.