My fall 2014 URSP project consists of assisting the professor in the ALT room and assessing student involvement. In the classroom, I am monitoring student engagement, course time management, and assisting the learning assistants in who in tern answer student questions. My main focus is assessing student analysis of their learning goals through surveys given out online before and after each exam. This allows for real time feedback on student reflections of their learning process with regards to the course and allows the professor to address frustrations associated with the course as a whole.
I became interested in my project in 2012 when one of my lecture professors was complicating flipping their course. The idea of active learning appealed to me as a student who excels in a hands-on environment and because I am easily distracted in typical lectures. After looking at current research in chemical education involving active learning and hearing that the STEM Accelerator’s LA program was looking for general chemistry learning assistants (LA) I approached my professor about a possible position for her course. I applied to the STEM Accelerators LA program, was accepted, and the following spring we proceeded with the course half flipped. We then continued reformatting and researching active learning and this is are second semester running the class fully flipped.
Chemical education research on active learning is part of my future goals as I finish out my education concentration and teachers licensure in the state of Virginia. I hope to teach high school chemistry as I peruse master’s degree in chemical education. Partaking in undergraduate research in the field I wish to peruse has helped me identity exactly what I like and dislike about the field and what aspects of chemical education I want to focus on in the future.
A week in the life of my project includes attending the course lecture and meeting with each of my mentors separately during the week. I make sure that all of the materials that were created over the summer are finalized, ready to presenting in class, and are organized correctly in blackboard. I also make sure that the online homework system is functioning and field student questions regarding the assignments. My main task during the week is to observe the students during class and create the questionnaires. I look at the findings from the questionnaires and compare them with course assessments and participation. I monitor student misconceptions and work with the professor to address these issues so students continue to build on their learning. This week I learned that repeating the key concepts, helping students identify them in different problems, and providing ways for students to interpret the concepts through various definitions is a skill that greatly assists in the learning process.