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Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom
 9780841232617, 084123261X, 9780841232648

Table of contents :
Content: 1. Introduction to Chemistry and the Liberal Arts Approach2. Chemistry of Literature, Literature of Chemistry: Developing and Promoting a Course for the Humanities and Natural Sciences 3. Infusing the Liberal Arts Mission Across Chemistry Curricula and Beyond 4. The Right Place and the Right Time: Incorporating Ethics into the Undergraduate Biochemistry Curriculum 5. Let the Students Do the Talking 6. Adapting Visual Art Techniques via Collaborations with a Local Museum To Engage Students in an Interdisciplinary Chemistry and Art Course 7. Chemistry Infographics: Experimenting with Creativity and Information Literacy 8. Incorporating Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Into the Chemistry Curriculum: Two Practitioners' Experiences 9. Liberal Arts Reading Strategies for the High School and University Chemistry Classroom 10. Environmental Justice: Chemistry in Context for Prison Inmates and Non-Majors 11. Making Connections to the Liberal Arts College Mission: Exploring Identity and Purpose in a Chemistry Course Editors' Biographies Indexes

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Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom


Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom Kathryn D. Kloepper, Editor Mercer University Macon, Georgia

Garland L. Crawford, Editor Mercer University Macon, Georgia

American Chemical Society, Washington, DC Distributed in print by Oxford University Press

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Kloepper, Kathryn D., editor. | Crawford, Garland L., 1974- editor. Title: Liberal arts strategies for the chemistry classroom / Kathryn D. Kloepper, editor (Mercer University, Macon, Georgia), Garland L. Crawford, editor (Mercer University, Macon, Georgia). Description: Washington, DC : American Chemical Society, [2017] | Series: ACS symposium series ; 1266 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017047787 (print) | LCCN 2017052445 (ebook) | ISBN 9780841232617 (ebook) | ISBN 9780841232648 Subjects: LCSH: Chemistry--Study and teaching. | Interdisciplinary approach in education. | Education, Humanistic. Classification: LCC QD49.5 (ebook) | LCC QD49.5 .L53 2017 (print) | DDC 540.71/1--dc23 LC record available at

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48n1984. Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society Distributed in print by Oxford University Press All Rights Reserved. Reprographic copying beyond that permitted by Sections 107 or 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act is allowed for internal use only, provided that a per-chapter fee of $40.25 plus $0.75 per page is paid to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Republication or reproduction for sale of pages in this book is permitted only under license from ACS. Direct these and other permission requests to ACS Copyright Office, Publications Division, 1155 16th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036. The citation of trade names and/or names of manufacturers in this publication is not to be construed as an endorsement or as approval by ACS of the commercial products or services referenced herein; nor should the mere reference herein to any drawing, specification, chemical process, or other data be regarded as a license or as a conveyance of any right or permission to the holder, reader, or any other person or corporation, to manufacture, reproduce, use, or sell any patented invention or copyrighted work that may in any way be related thereto. Registered names, trademarks, etc., used in this publication, even without specific indication thereof, are not to be considered unprotected by law. PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Foreword The ACS Symposium Series was first published in 1974 to provide a mechanism for publishing symposia quickly in book form. The purpose of the series is to publish timely, comprehensive books developed from the ACS sponsored symposia based on current scientific research. Occasionally, books are developed from symposia sponsored by other organizations when the topic is of keen interest to the chemistry audience. Before agreeing to publish a book, the proposed table of contents is reviewed for appropriate and comprehensive coverage and for interest to the audience. Some papers may be excluded to better focus the book; others may be added to provide comprehensiveness. When appropriate, overview or introductory chapters are added. Drafts of chapters are peer-reviewed prior to final acceptance or rejection, and manuscripts are prepared in camera-ready format. As a rule, only original research papers and original review papers are included in the volumes. Verbatim reproductions of previous published papers are not accepted.

ACS Books Department

Contents 1.

Introduction to Chemistry and the Liberal Arts Approach ................................. 1 Garland L. Crawford and Kathryn D. Kloepper


Chemistry of Literature, Literature of Chemistry: Developing and Promoting a Course for the Humanities and Natural Sciences ......................... 11 Dan Sykes and Mark S. Morrisson


Infusing the Liberal Arts Mission Across Chemistry Curricula and Beyond ..................................................................................................................... 27 Demetra A. C. Czegan, Diane M. Miller, and James Kabrhel


The Right Place and the Right Time: Incorporating Ethics into the Undergraduate Biochemistry Curriculum .......................................................... 45 Meagan K. Mann


Let the Students Do the Talking ........................................................................... 71 Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz, Larry Dukerich, and Erica Posthuma-Adams


Adapting Visual Art Techniques via Collaborations with a Local Museum To Engage Students in an Interdisciplinary Chemistry and Art Course .......... 99 Carrigan J. Hayes


Chemistry Infographics: Experimenting with Creativity and Information Literacy ................................................................................................................. 113 Deborah Gale Mitchell, Julie A. Morris, Joseph M. Meredith, and Naomi Bishop


Incorporating Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Into the Chemistry Curriculum: Two Practitioners’ Experiences ................................................... 133 Christen Strollo and Kathryn L. Davis


Liberal Arts Reading Strategies for the High School and University Chemistry Classroom .......................................................................................... 153 Elaine B. Vickers and Rebecca Caldwell

10. Environmental Justice: Chemistry in Context for Prison Inmates and Non-Majors ........................................................................................................... 167 Emily Metzger and Samantha Glazier 11. Making Connections to the Liberal Arts College Mission: Exploring Identity and Purpose in a Chemistry Course .................................................... 185 Amanda S. Harper-Leatherman


Editors’ Biographies .................................................................................................... 195

Indexes Author Index ................................................................................................................ 199 Subject Index ................................................................................................................ 201


Chapter 1

Introduction to Chemistry and the Liberal Arts Approach Garland L. Crawford* and Kathryn D. Kloepper Department of Chemistry, Mercer University, 1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, Georgia 31207, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Modern liberal arts instruction promotes student learning, critical thinking, and civic engagement through intentional reading, class discussion, focused writing, and thoughtful reflection. In contrast, science courses tend to focus on exposing students to discipline-specific, technical knowledge. How, when, and why should a chemistry instructor take cues from the humanities and social sciences? What are the best teaching practices from other disciplines, and how can they be adapted to the field of chemistry? This introductory chapter and book explore best practices for making interdisciplinary connections and integrating liberal arts-inspired teaching strategies for a range of courses from high school to upper-level college courses. Chapters include descriptions of themed courses and specific class activities that are all great examples of how to bring liberal arts content into a chemistry class.

Chemistry’s Place in the Liberal Arts An issue with the title of this book that is readily apparent to many faculty working at small, primarily undergraduate institutes is that many chemistry departments function within colleges of liberal arts. However, the distinction that we would like to highlight with this book is not one of administrative organization. Instead, our focus is on the natural tension that occurs between the need to disseminate content knowledge to students and the need for broad intellectual development of the students. While this tension likely exists in all academic disciplines, as chemistry faculty in a liberal arts college, we have © 2017 American Chemical Society

experienced that chemistry courses tend toward the former while introductory classes in the humanities often have more success with the latter. This tension is not a recent development (1). For decades now, liberal arts institutions have found themselves on the defensive, with some outside (and even inside) higher education calling into question the utility of a liberal arts education (2, 3). That, coupled with recruitment pressures, has led some institutions, departments, and individuals to move to a more vocational focus. This shift towards career preparedness can often result in classes that focus on the technical content of a discipline at the expense of the development of softer, transferable skills, which may be assumed to be acquired by students in other places in the curriculum. Instructors may feel personally compelled, or even externally pressured, to cover as much content in a course as possible because of a fear that their students may encounter this information on a standardized, pre-professional exam. Is the only value of a chemistry degree that of obtaining a career in the field or placement in graduate school? In what way should a chemistry program contribute to a student’s development as a lifelong learner and broadly-educated member of society? Professor A. Truman Schwartz, in his acceptance address for the 2007 George C. Pimental Award in Chemical Education, eloquently made the case for liberal arts education in chemistry courses: “...all chemistry courses are, or should be, ‘liberal arts chemistry’. By that I mean a course that strives for conceptual understanding, mastery of the necessary related skills; awareness of practical, social, and ethical applications and issues; and some knowledge of the historical roots of the discipline and its place in the broader intellectual tradition. Above all, the liberal arts approach emphasizes the importance of learning how to learn, and that makes a liberal arts education a much better preparation for a career in our rapidly changing society than narrow vocational training (4).” We agree with Professor Schwartz’s statement. His comments remind chemistry instructors of the integrative nature of the discipline. The study of chemistry need not be separated from history, ethics, and public engagement. We have compiled the chapters in this book as examples of successful ways to incorporate a liberal arts approach into chemistry courses.

Development of Liberal Arts Chemists The physical sciences are an extension of natural philosophy and historically rooted in the liberal arts. However, modern chemistry courses often share little structure or content with their counterparts in the humanities. The implicit demand on chemistry instructors is to ensure that students master material that they may encounter in higher-level courses. Introductory General Chemistry textbooks often expand beyond 1000 pages and provide introductions to all subdisciplines of chemistry (5, 6). Before classes even begin, instructors are making selections 2

about which material to exclude. The sheer volume of foundational information to which students could be exposed promotes the development of content-focused courses, including those aimed at non-majors. A common outcome of this, especially for new faculty members, is to rely on a traditional lecture to ensure that all topics are covered in the limited class time. When we each joined the faculty at Mercer University, we each had a lecture-based approach as we both focused our chemistry courses on presenting as much content to our students as possible. We were both heavily influenced by the graduate school environment which tends to promote technical expertise as the greatest good. As we started attending meetings like the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education and reflecting on our own teaching effectiveness, we realized our “firehose”approach-- blasting students with as much content as possible--was unengaging at best and, at worst, not conducive to deep, higher-order learning. Too often we presented ourselves in the classroom as the sources of knowledge, rather than the facilitators of knowledge application. Our common observations led to conversations about our courses in Biochemistry (Crawford), Analytical (Kloepper), and General Chemistry (both). Some of our most pressing questions included: • • • • • •

Was content delivery our only goal in chemistry courses? What could we do in class to better help our students make connections between disciplines, including subdisciplines of chemistry? What are best practices for teaching in other disciplines, and how might they be adapted to chemistry courses? What skills do we want our students to learn? What is chemistry’s role in the liberal arts? How can our courses better align with the University’s mission and goals?

In parallel with this self-reflection and ongoing professional development, we also were teaching courses outside of the Department of Chemistry. The Mercer University College of Liberal Arts provides two avenues through which students may satisfy their general education requirements. The first potential path is the Integrative Studies program that combines traditional, student-selected courses that are grouped by thematic block and three courses that model integrative learning while providing foundational experiences in writing and oral communication (7). The second path available for students to complete their general education requirements is the Great Books program. In this program students complete a sequence of seven courses in which the students read, discuss, and write about the seminal texts in western civilization, as selected by the Great Books faculty. The Integrative studies classes and the Great Books classes are taught by faculty in all disciplines in the college. Both authors teach in the Great Books program. Additionally, Kloepper served as the program director for two years. Classroom discussions are the cornerstone of the Great Books program (8). In these discussions, the students largely drive the direction of the conversation, while the instructor takes on either the role of equal participant, on the best of days, or of Socratic gadfly, when discussion lags. The depth and breadth of these texts 3

make full coverage of the content an impossible task; therefore the Great Books students often determine the extent of content coverage by their engagement. After teaching a course multiple times, it becomes clear to the instructor that, although the exact nature and direction of a textual discussion may change year to year, the students still achieve a fundamental understanding. In addition to a successful coverage of content, students develop skills as writers and public speakers that extend outside of the class and serve to reinforce the ideas and themes the texts. Through these experiences in the Great Books program, we began experimenting with similar activities in the chemistry classroom. Kloepper utilized works from William Shakespeare to scaffold projects in an upper-level Instrumental Analysis course (9). This activity provided an introduction to an open-ended research question and allowed students to use primary scientific literature to support a creative, previously unexplored research question. Crawford has incorporated writing and discussion activities into a senior-level Biochemistry course. Class days which were previously spent lecturing about a metabolic pathway were redirected to encourage student discussion of the pathway, often in the context of a case study. As students explained to each other how they understood a pathway, it became apparent where the foundational material was misunderstood or inappropriately articulated (Crawford, unpublished). Additionally, Crawford and Kiefer developed a final review project for a first semester General Chemistry course centered on a carbide lantern, which is used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (10). While providing clear examples to stoichiometry and heats of reactions, an example question that considered the cost of operation of the lantern allowed for a discussion of poverty and work in third-world countries. Many teaching strategies from non-science, liberal arts disciplines can be incorporated into the chemistry classroom to promote higher-order learning and student engagement, while making connections across the depth and breadth of disciplines. Others have used literature (11–17), history (14, 17–21), and the arts (22–26) to explore chemistry from a new perspective and to help students integrate disciplines. Discussion and debate, staples of many humanities courses, can find their way into chemistry courses to benefit faculty and students (27). Our experiences inside and outside the chemistry classroom, and others like them, led us to propose symposia at BCCE 2014 and BCCE 2016 entitled “Liberal Arts Content and Pedagogy in the Chemistry Classroom: Making Connections Between Disciplines” and “Liberal Arts in the Chemistry Classroom: Making Connections to Improve Learning, Engagement, and Teaching,” respectively. These symposia are the foundation for this book, and many of the chapters focus on liberal arts teaching strategies and show how successful they can be.

Opportunities for Faculty Development We benefited from departmental and University support for encouraging our training in courses outside of chemistry. The Great Books Program at Mercer University requires faculty to train in a course prior to teaching it; to this end, faculty must sit in on every class in a semester. Observing discussion-based class 4

time--so often a hallmark of humanities classes--allowed us to see how this might work in our own chemistry courses. When we ultimately taught our own Great Books courses, we experienced what it was like to turn a class over to the students, in a sense, and not be driven by content coverage. However, we acknowledge that it is not possible for all chemistry faculty to teach outside of the field for a variety of reasons. Many colleges and universities do not have general education courses that permit out-of-discipline teaching, and often chemistry departments are already overwhelmed by teaching demands in highly-enrolled General and Organic Chemistry courses. Where teaching outside of the discipline might not be possible, however, it is still possible to observe other types of classes. For example, we suggest that chemistry faculty reach out to colleagues outside of the sciences and ask to observe their teaching. This is particularly beneficial (and often encouraged or required) for pre-tenure faculty, as these observations can lead to additional mentoring relationships in addition to self-reflection. As highlighted in several of the contributed chapters to this book, colleagues in other disciplines are a valuable resource for new ideas and approaches. A new approach to a course or just a new class activity often reinvigorates both faculty and students. Faculty have the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and explore their field from a different perspective.

Overview of Chapters The purpose of this book is to provide examples in which chemistry teachers and students have benefited from a more “liberal arts” approach to chemistry. Many, if not all of the questions we posed to one another (see previous section), continue to be on-going discussions for us, and many served as the inspiration for our symposia at the 2014 and 2016 Biennial Conferences on Chemical Education. The work presented in these chapters and the citations contained herein provide innovative examples of topic integration and classroom strategies that increase student engagement and reinvigorate faculty and courses. As liberal arts strategies are not rigidly defined, the hope is that faculty will be inspired to incorporate additional material and approaches for their own chemistry courses. This book includes chapters that span high school courses through upper-level university work and should be of interest to a range of chemistry instructors. Additionally, chapter authors represent a variety of institution types, not just traditional liberal arts colleges. The liberal arts-inspired approaches presented here can be applied to other science courses at many different levels. In the Chapter 2, Sykes and Morrisson outline the development and challenges of an interdepartmental course at Pennsylvania State University known as “Chemistry and Literature” (28). These authors have established a model course for integrative undergraduate education. They describe how texts, such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, provide the source material for exploring foundational chemical principles and for teaching textual analysis while simultaneously demonstrating the interrelatedness of science and culture. Critical thinking and the integration of traditional spheres of knowledge are 5

emphasized throughout the course. Sykes and Morrisson also provide insight into the challenges of establishing such a course in the modern university system. In Chapter 3, Czegan and Miller provide a detailed outline of how liberal arts strategies and the Catholic mission of the university are integrated throughout the chemistry curriculum at Seton Hill University (29). Information literacy, personal and professional reflection, and ethics are emphasized in majors courses with Catholic social teaching strongly linked to the inorganic chemistry course. Additionally, Kabrhel from the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc discusses how information literacy and student presentation skills have been utilized in the introductory chemistry sequences at a liberal arts, two-year college that supports the state university system (29). Chapter 4 outlines the need for teaching ethics in the chemistry curriculum and identifies specific areas of ethics needed by undergraduates (30). This introduction is followed by a thoughtful argument for including ethics in the Biochemistry course sequence. Mann (Austin Peay State University) supports the argument a wide range of case studies that build on the relationship between historical events and the development of policy and regulation. Each topic includes discussion points to facilitate conversations and ideas to promote student engagement and summative assessment. The chapter serves as an excellent guide for the exploration of ethics and reminds all scientists, and students of science, that the ethical conduct of research is central to the success of the enterprise. In Chapter 5, Megowan-Romanowicz (American Modeling Teachers Association), Dukerich (American Modeling Teachers Association), and Posthuma-Adams (University High School of Indiana) explore Modeling Instruction for chemistry (31). As a liberal arts strategy, Modeling Instruction makes student discussion and interpretation the focal point of the learning environment. Students use dry-erase whiteboards and group work to develop consistent cognitive models for fundamental ideas in chemistry. Through an engaged and directed discussion, students learn to represent concepts consistently and critically explore their proposed models through discussions with peers. The chapter includes the development of Modeling Instruction from the beginnings in the physics classroom and examples of its use in chemistry. At Otterbein University, Hayes has adapted visual arts techniques to an interdisciplinary course between chemistry and art (Chapter 6) (32). Through a collaboration with the Columbus Museum of Art, she provides an introduction to ODIP (Observe, Describe, Interpret, Prove) and “See-Think-Wonder” as applied to individual pieces of art and to molecular structures. These approaches allow students to see how visual representations of chemical structures can themselves lead to an exploration of the underlying chemistry. The incorporation of artistic creativity, communication, and information literacy into a chemistry course is outlined in Chapter 7 provided by Mitchell (University of Denver), Morris (University of Denver), Meredith (Boise State University), and Bishop (Northern Arizona University) (33). In a sophomore Analytical Chemistry course, students developed infographics to communicate foundational concepts of a chemical reaction to a lay audience. The assignment exposed students to the professional expertise of librarians and graphic designers 6

while introducing them to aspects of information literacy such as assessment of sources and copyright law for images. Strollo (College of Saint Benedict|Saint John’s University) and Davis (Manchester University) provide examples of Problem-Based Learning in an introductory non-majors’ course and an upper-level majors’ course (Chapter 8) (34). The challenges of shifting to a problem-based classroom are discussed as both authors provide insight into the development of their own courses. While there is a natural tension when significant course changes are undertaken, Strollo and Davis demonstrate how course content can be maintained in this approach while students are directed toward integration of material and the development of skills for lifelong learning. In Chapter 9, Vickers (Southern Utah State) and Caldwell (Trenton High School) provide two examples for the promotion of reading in a chemistry classroom: Literary Challenges and Literature Circles (35). These approaches encourage student engagement with reading and promote reading comprehension by providing opportunities for students to read and discuss diverse chemical topics using a wide range of texts. These techniques encourage students to identify chemical concepts in books, plays, and poetry. Additionally, teaching strategies discussed here allow for implementation of these ideas without a significant loss of time for traditional class content while simultaneously promoting engagement with faculty and other students. Metzger and Glazier describe in Chapter 10 an environmental justice course for undergraduate students at St. Lawrence University and inmates at a maximum security prison through the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program (36). The authors describe a course that is impactful for all students of the course due to the inherent structure of bringing these populations together. More broadly, they outline a course that helps students connect foundational ideas about modern chemistry with environmental engagement while considering questions of their place in society. The final chapter (Chapter 11) provides an example of the realignment of a non-majors chemistry course with larger themes appropriate to a liberal arts mission (37). Harper-Leatherman (Fairfield University) explains how she has utilized an introductory forensics course to engage students with fundamental questions about identity. In addition to learning about forensic techniques and the science associated with crime scene investigation, students reflect on the physical aspects of personhood and individuality.

Conclusions This chapter provides an overview of the background for the integration of liberal arts into chemistry courses and an introduction to the goals and contributed works in this book. The authors believe deeply in the value of a liberal arts education for the professional and personal development of our students. Technical, discipline-specific knowledge will continue to be the cornerstone of chemistry programs. The ability to understand the world at a molecular level is critical for an understanding of the physical and natural sciences. However, to support student learning and growth and to prepare students for the array 7

of challenges they will face, the acquisition of technical knowledge cannot be at the expense of transferable skills that allow students to fully engage in the world. Whether instructors choose to adopt teaching techniques or to incorporate non-technical content, the humanities and social sciences provide rich source material for the innovation and improvement of chemistry courses. The incorporation of liberal arts strategies improves the course, the instructor, and the students.

References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12.

13. 14. 15. 16.


Schwartz, A. T. Chemistry: One of the Liberal Arts. J. Chem. Educ. 1980, 57 (1), 13. Breneman, D. W. Are We Losing Our Liberal Arts Colleges? AAHE Bull. 1990, 43 (2), 3–6. Roche, M. W. Why Choose the Liberal Arts? University of Notre Dame Press, 2010. Schwartz, A. T. Chemistry Education, Science Literacy, and the Liberal Arts. 2007 George C. Pimentel Award. J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84 (11), 1750. Tro, N. J. Chemistry: A Molecular Approach, 4th ed.; Pearson, 2017. Burdge, J. Chemistry, 4th ed.; McGraw Hill Education, 2016. Integrative Core Curriculum. (accessed Aug 17, 2017). Great Books. (accessed Aug 16, 2017). Kloepper, K. D. Bringing in the Bard: Shakespearean Plays as Context for Instrumental Analysis Projects. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92 (1), 79–85. Crawford, G. L.; Kiefer, A. M. Using a Carbide Lantern To Illustrate General Chemistry Concepts and Introduce Students to Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93 (4), 687–690. Labianca, D. A.; Reeves, W. J. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Science and Literature. J. Chem. Educ. 1975, 52 (1), 66. Harper-Leatherman, A. S.; Miecznikowski, J. R. O True Apothecary: How Forensic Science Helps Solve a Classic Crime. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89 (5), 629–635. Herrick, R. S.; Cording, R. K. Using a Poetry Reading on Hemoglobin To Enhance Subject Matter. J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90 (2), 215–218. Labianca, D. A. The Role of the Humanities in the Teaching of Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 1984, 61 (2), 148. Last, A. M. Chemistry in Victorian Detective Fiction: “A Race with the Sun”. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89 (5), 636–639. Paiva, J. C.; Morais, C.; Moreira, L. Specialization, Chemistry, and Poetry: Challenging Chemistry Boundaries. J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90 (12), 1577–1579. Zuidema, D. R.; Herndon, L. B. Using The Poisoner’s Handbook in Conjunction with Teaching a First-Term General/Organic/Biochemistry Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93 (1), 98–102. 8

18. Samet, C.; Higgins, P. J. Napoleon’s Buttons: Teaching the Role of Chemistry in History. J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82 (10), 1496. 19. Federico, E. D.; Kehlet, C.; Schahbaz, H.; Charton, B. ConfChem Conference on Case-Based Studies in Chemical Education: Chemistry of Pompeii and Herculaneum—A Case Study Course in Chemistry at the Interface of Ancient Technology and Archeological Conservation. J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90 (2), 264–265. 20. Bucholtz, K. M. Spicing Things Up by Adding Color and Relieving Pain: The Use of Napoleon’s Buttons in Organic Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88 (2), 158–161. 21. Bucholtz, K. M. Historical Examples Integrated into the Organic Chemistry Curriculum. In Advances in Teaching Organic Chemistry; ACS Symposium Series 1108; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2012; pp 131–150. 22. Wells, G.; Haaf, M. Investigating Art Objects through Collaborative Student Research Projects in an Undergraduate Chemistry and Art Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90 (12), 1616–1621. 23. Uffelman, E. S. Teaching Science in Art. J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84 (10), 1617. 24. Spillane, N. K. What’s Copenhagen Got To Do With Chemistry Class? Using a Play to Teach the History and Practice of Science. J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90 (2), 219–223. 25. Nivens, D. A.; Padgett, C. W.; Chase, J. M.; Verges, K. J.; Jamieson, D. S. Art, Meet Chemistry; Chemistry, Meet Art: Case Studies, Current Literature, and Instrumental Methods Combined To Create a Hands-On Experience for Nonmajors and Instrumental Analysis Students. J. Chem. Educ. 2010, 87 (10), 1089–1093. 26. André, J. P. Viewing Scenes of the History of Chemistry through the Opera Glass. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92 (1), 66–73. 27. Obenland, C. A.; Kincaid, K.; Hutchinson, J. S. A General Chemistry Laboratory Course Designed for Student Discussion. J. Chem. Educ. 2014, 91 (9), 1446–1450. 28. Sykes, D.; Morrisson, M. S. Chemistry of Literature, Literature of Chemistry: Developing and Promoting a Course for the Humanities and Natural Sciences. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 2, pp 11−25. 29. Czegan, D. A. C.; Miller, D. M.; Kabrhel, J. Infusing the Liberal Arts Mission Across Chemistry Curricula and Beyond. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 3, pp 27−43. 30. Mann, M. The Right Place and the Right Time: Incorporating Ethics into the Undergraduate Biochemistry Curriculum. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 4, pp 45−70. 31. Megowan-Romanowicz, C.; Dukerich, L.; Post-huma-Adams, E. Let the Students Do the Talking. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry 9







Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 5, pp 71−97. Hayes, C. Adapting Visual Art Techniques via Collaborations with a Local Museum to Engage Students in an Interdisciplinary Chemistry and Art Course. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 6, pp 99−112. Mitchell, D. G.; Morris, J. A.; Meredith, J. M.; Bishop, N. Chemistry Infographics: Experimenting with Creativity and Information Literacy. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 7, pp 113−131. Strollo, C.; Davis, K. Incorporating Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Into the Chemistry Curriculum: Two Practitioners’ Experiences. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 8, pp 133−151. Vickers, E.; Caldwell, R. Liberal Arts Reading Strategies for the High School and University Chemistry Classroom. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 9, pp 153−165. Metzger, E.; Glazier, S. Environmental Justice: Chemistry in Context for Prison Inmates and Non-Majors. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 10, pp 167−183. Harper-Leatherman, A. S. Making Connections to the Liberal Arts College Mission: Exploring Identity and Purpose in a Chemistry Course. In Liberal Arts Strategies for the Chemistry Classroom; ACS Symposium Series 1266; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2017; Chapter 11, pp 185−194.


Chapter 2

Chemistry of Literature, Literature of Chemistry: Developing and Promoting a Course for the Humanities and Natural Sciences Dan Sykes*,1 and Mark S. Morrisson2 1Department

of Chemistry, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, United States 2Department of English, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

An inter-domain chemistry and literature course at Penn State is a pedagogically innovative course co-taught by Chemistry and English faculty. The course teaches both the basic concepts of chemistry and their cultural elaboration in literature across the modern period. Students discuss how texts such as Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau, WWI poetry, and White Noise, among others, mirror the cultural perceptions of science during their respective time periods and provides students with a nuanced understanding of how literature and science inform each other and negotiate cultural, religious, and political tensions. A principal aim of the course is to facilitate mutual informed dialog concerning science and society between students from a diverse set of majors.

Calls for colleges and universities to emphasize “integrative learning” have increased in recent years and have been heard by universities including our own. As one influential appeal put it, students need “a high level of integrative learning and demonstrated accomplishment across the full range of essential learning outcomes (1).” That 2007 report by the National Leadership Council for Liberal Education & America’s Promise noted that students themselves were already moving in this direction by choosing double majors or minors that crossed the

© 2017 American Chemical Society

“‘liberal arts/professional’ divide.” But the report lamented that “many of the most imaginative efforts to forge new connections between the liberal arts and sciences and professional studies still hover on the margins,” and concluded: “Higher education needs new leadership and new determination to move these promising developments from the margins to the center.” Since the report, the call for general education curricula to foster integration of knowledge across domains and fields has only increased (2, 3), and we shall discuss our own university’s recent efforts to formalize this mandate in its curriculum. But, in 2005, there was no such general education mandate, and we approached with excitement but also some trepidation our experiment in cross-departmental---indeed cross-college---cooperation. Deeply invested in a vision of undergraduate education that cultivates deep knowledge and critical thinking skills in a major but also the ability to integrate domains of knowledge and thought that are all too often taught in isolation, we sat down together to design an experimental course that would model the kind of cross-disciplinary integrative thinking we hoped to see in all Penn State undergraduates. The challenge was to imagine a course that would be sustainable and make an impact within the constraints of a large land grant university with a complicated set of curricular mandates and scheduling challenges. The cross-listed course, Chem/Engl 233, “Chemistry and Literature,” was approved by our Faculty Senate Curricular Affairs process in Spring 2006 and has been offered as a team-taught course every year since 2007. The course has served as a model in the recent discussions at Penn State about a new university requirement for general education courses that integrate two or more knowledge domains. The most important thing that we had to determine---and that anyone proposing such a course at another university or college should clearly establish---was a compelling rationale for the course. What did our students need to learn from this course that would justify the considerable commitment of resources necessitated by a team-taught course? We found that we shared a concern about poor scientific literacy in contemporary America and about the risks a narrow specialization of knowledge posed to a democratic capitalist society. Above all, though, we were concerned about the dangers both to society and to science itself of a citizenry all too willing to see science as a separate sphere of knowledge, unrelated to the broader culture, society, and economy, immune to the manipulations of political and corporate agendas, and, worst of all, without ethical or social implications. We concluded that our course would aim to help students become thoughtful and critical participants in public debates about science and help motivate an appreciation for science as a major component of our contemporary society. To gain this perspective, several approaches were considered. For example, the course could focus on current scientific developments, such as nanotechnology, and its influence on film, literature (e.g., cyberpunk), and pop culture or the course could emphasize heated political topics such as climate change and incorporate nonfictional works from mainstream pundits. Instead, we decided students would need to understand the workings of science in culture and society through a historical perspective that would provide them a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the present, and they would need to acquire from the 12

course a current understanding of the chemistry involved in the areas the course covered. In short, the course needed to be a humanities course and a natural science course---in the modern university terms of academic departments---and it would need to do the hard work of aggressively keeping methods, concerns, and approaches of both disciplines in dialogue with each other throughout the semester, and of fostering a classroom environment in which students from multiple disciplinary backgrounds would learn from each other’s questions and concerns.

“One Culture”: Science and Literature in the General Education Curriculum Teaching the history of science solely in terms of the history of crucial “discoveries” of the “Great Scientists” tends to cordon science off from the rest of social and cultural history and lends to the perception of science’s detachment and isolation in the present that we most hoped to challenge. So, theories that contested that old historiography of science would necessarily inform our pedagogy. For example, though it still focuses more on seemingly internal institutional dynamics in science than our course would, we would use Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts for its challenge to the Great Scientist historiography, for its compelling description of academic science in terms of a “normal science” that in itself ceaselessly, if slowly, produces the conditions for its own eventual failure and renewal through paradigm shifts, and, finally, because Kuhn’s acknowledgment that the perspective of a scientist is formed in part by broad cultural and social forces opens the door to our class to explore a wider range of those forces than Kuhn himself did in his tour-de-force 1962 volume, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (4). And Kuhn’s groundbreaking volume represented just one of many possible approaches to the cross-disciplinary exploration we wished to model for our students. Before setting out to design the first syllabus for our hybrid humanities/natural sciences course, we looked for inspiration from scholars who had long been working at the nexus of the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences that is often the focus of fields known variously as Literature and Science, Science Studies, or Science, Technology, and Society (STS), and in current research in the History or Philosophy of Science. Often housed in humanities or social science departments in many universities, and in dialogue with the science and engineering departments, almost all of these scholars challenge the conception that science can be clearly demarcated from other realms of modern culture, a conception often found in our culture at large but also in many undergraduate courses in science and the history of science. We might essentially see these perspectives and methodologies as pushing against, in various ways, the famous “Two Cultures” thesis of C. P. Snow’s 1959 Rede Lecture at Cambridge University that was expanded and published as a book that the Times Literary Supplement in 1995 and again in 2008 listed as one of the most influential books since the Second World War. In The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, Snow argued that, “the intellectual life of the whole 13

of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups.,” resulting in a society with “Literary intellectuals at one pole---at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension---sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding (5).” Snow’s talk and his book prompted a blistering response from literary critic F. R. Leavis and a public debate (6). As Helen Small has documented (7), these “two cultures” disputes have been around since antiquity, but modern examples include the science and literature debates between T. H. Huxley and Mathew Arnold in the 1880s, the Snow/Leavis debate, and the “Sokal affair” of 1996, in which physicist Alan Sokal attempted to discredit cultural studies and science studies in the humanities by placing a hoax article on the social construction of gravity in a prominent academic journal, Social Text (8). But Small argues that these debates tend to reveal more about the “wider social, cultural, institutional, and political factors that had a bearing on the argument,” than they do about the actual academic research in the disciplines that are commonly oversimplified by the debates. Our humanities and science course would be well positioned to explore such a perspective on public debates about science in modern life. To cultivate in our students the integrative thinking and critical perspective afforded by cross-disciplinary scholarship, we turned to what Small calls a “one culture” model that, as she puts it, “consciously rejects the imprisoning power of specialization and seeks to establish the depth of cultural overlap and productive interaction between different spheres of knowledge.” But, while advocating an interdisciplinary approach, it would be folly to underestimate the power and institutional dynamics of specialization in the modern university as well as in the sciences. Indeed, Small emphasizes the deep entrenchment of disciplinarity in the modern university, where even cross-disciplinary collaborations, such as those in the history of science and science studies, and interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching are often sustained by discipline-specific training. And, while universities have been calling for increasing interdisciplinarity over the past decade as if it were a new imperative, Andrew Abbott argues that “the emphasis on interdisciplinarity emerged contemporaneously with, not after, the disciplines. . . . There was no long process of ossification; the one bred the other almost immediately (9).” For example, he notes that by the mid-1920s several private foundations were already focused on eliminating barriers between the social science disciplines. Research practices are highly specialized even within specific science disciplines. The explosive growth in our understanding of chemical and biological processes and the remarkable advances in science and technology over the past half century or more now place extraordinary demands on individuals aspiring to become researchers. Complex challenging issues (e.g., development of new cancer therapies) require researchers to possess an extensive educational background and both broad and deep expertise in several areas within a given discipline or across multiple disciplines. College-level introductory general chemistry textbooks now average over one thousand pages and reflect the enormous educational and experiential preparation beginning at the freshman level and continuing through the postdoctoral appointment and beyond. This high 14

degree of specialization is a driving force for faculty to seek collaborations with colleagues in different fields, albeit different fields within the natural sciences. Moreover, such specialization compartmentalizes academic researchers and subtly reinforces a “two culture” view of science as separate from society. Recognizing the need for better public engagement, the National Science Foundation and other federal funding agencies have for decades required research proposals to include some assessment of the broader impacts of the proposed research. The criteria encompass impacts on the scientific community (e.g. the intrinsic merit of the proposed research and its contribution to science infrastructure) and for society as a whole (e.g. new knowledge and solutions to societal problems and the development of new technologies). In 1997, a broader impact statement became a formal distinct review criterion but was met with significant resistance within the scientific community (10). Voices critical of the broader impact criterion cite that the primary mission of federally funded research is to advance the frontiers of knowledge and that the tangible benefits arising from fundamental discoveries are not always immediately evident. The primary role of basic research is to serve as a catalyst for future innovation and the development of new technologies (11, 12). However, in order to remain competitive in an increasingly globalized economy and protect the health and welfare of the public and the environment, adequate funding for basic research requires a scientifically literate and appreciative citizenry; therefore, such views do not obviate the scientific community’s need to engage the public in order to improve the public’s understanding of the value of basic research (13–16). Today, almost all research-based universities have dedicated and staffed resource centers to assist faculty in communicating the potential benefits of their research to society. Impacts can be as varied as facilitating the participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, increasing scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology, developing partnerships between academia, industry, and others, and enhancing infrastructure for research and education. If science education or science literacy is important, then we need persuasive justifications for emphasizing science in all aspects of public life. Misunderstandings, even animosity, can arise when scientists and other stakeholders in our society fail to adequately inform each other. Numerous surveys have shown that the public has difficulty distinguishing pseudoscience from science and that a sizable opinion gap exists between the general public and scientists on a range of science and technology topics including, the safety of genetically modified foods, human evolution, vaccination requirements, and climate change (17). Science literacy among entering college undergraduates is only slightly higher than in the general public on basic science questions, even for those freshmen majoring in STEM fields (18, 19). Keeping this history in mind, and intensely aware of the often quite different disciplinary logics of fields that organize the undergraduate curriculum, our approach to cross-disciplinarity in our class was going to need to help students understand how scientific disciplines function and change across time in different historical contexts. In so doing, it would also help students understand ways in which science, contrary to the logic of “two cultures,” remains an aspect of a larger 15

culture and society, not its own separate island. In other words, we would explore the ramifications of a “one culture” model, while not downplaying the power of disciplinary specialization and its institutionalization in the modern university. Hence, work in STS, Science and Literature, and Science Studies over the recent decades would inform our perspective. Those fields tend both to emphasize the limitations of the “two cultures” model (especially in the past before disciplines emerged, but also in the present when it remains an oversimplification), but also to explore the dynamics, features, and repercussions of disciplinarity. For example, in a key volume on Literature and Science, Bruce Clarke and Manuela Rossini, simultaneously critique Snow’s thesis while acknowledging that “knowledge production in the modern world increasingly proceeds through the specialized or technical languages that enclose separate disciplinary spheres (20).”George Levine perhaps articulated best what would become a defining logic of our course, when he argued in an influential collection on the subject that “It is possible and fruitful to understand how literature and science are mutually shaped by their participation in the culture at large---in the intellectual, moral, aesthetic, social, economic, and political communities which both generate and take their shape from them (21).”

Pedagogical Approach The course we envisioned was to be a basic general education course of value to any undergraduate student, including those in their first or second year at Penn State who had not moved far along in any disciplinary curriculum as well as students who had already chosen majors. The goal was to make the interdisciplinary course appeal to groups of students from widely divergent disciplinary backgrounds. Students from the sciences might see it as an engaging way to earn required humanities general education credits, and students in the humanities might see it as a less intimidating way to gain their natural science general education credits than they might find in our more conventional science offerings. Students not majoring in the humanities or sciences, in English or Chemistry, would be encouraged as well. We knew that we could not presuppose any background knowledge of the History or Philosophy of Science or the fields of Literature and Science, Science Studies, or STS, and that we could not ask students to read deeply in the fairly demanding work of seminal thinkers whose scholarship might be at the heart of a graduate or advanced undergraduate seminar. Such a course might assign writings by Ludwik Fleck, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Bruno Latour, Weibe Bijker, Mary Jo Nye, William R. Newman, Lawrence Principe, Evelyn Fox Keller, George Levine, Bruce Clarke, Linda Dalrymple Henderson, Karen Barad, Susan Merrill Squier, or Richard M. Doyle, for instance. Rather, we selected primary works of literature from the Romantic Period through the present that eloquently and with complexity spoke to key issues in the history of modern chemistry (and its predecessors Natural Philosophy and even Alchemy) and in the culture and society from which it emerged and which it shaped. Because the contemporary disciplinary boundaries of modern chemistry 16

were only gradually emerging across the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we felt free to draw together issues that might now be seen as “belonging” to biology or physics---evolution, electricity, or vitalism, for example---in part to help demonstrate the web of thoughts that drew together scientific discourse and the religious imperatives of the period, or social or even economic anxieties or concerns that could all-too-easily now be dismissed as “outside” of science. The course teaches both basic concepts of chemistry and their cultural elaboration in literature across the modern period. It seeks to provide students with a nuanced understanding of how literature and science inform each other and negotiate cultural, religious, and political tensions. In science curricula, understanding the origin and development of these ideas and discoveries is an essential component of science and scientific achievement, but too often our methods of teaching science focus almost exclusively on teaching facts and theories at the expense of the historical discovery and development of those facts and theories. In designing our course, we chose writings that could facilitate discussion of scientific facts and theories and the contexts of their production and improve students’ abilities to critically evaluate facts. Texts such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, Don DeLillo’s White Noise, or poetry about chemical warfare from the First World War, among others, mirror the cultural perceptions of science during their respective time periods and provide a framework for discussion, or, in the case of a novel such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, have even shaped the scientific discourse of fields such as in vitro fertilization. A number of these texts have been required reading for many students in high school (e.g., Frankenstein or Brave New World), but there they are typically taught solely from a literary perspective. For each literary work, our discussion of the science is a framed narrative involving multiple story lines with a common point of intersection, the author’s own perception of and engagement with the culture of science. In the end-of-semester evaluations, students praise this real-world big picture approach to scientific discovery as being more informative and more engaging than a simple recitation of the information known at the time a novel was written. This holds true in other chemistry-major courses too. A similar approach can be used when introducing students to new concepts in a sophomore-level analytical chemistry course, for example, or in senior-level instrumental analysis courses such as chromatography and chemical spectroscopy. For example, in an analytical chemistry course Dan Sykes teaches, to introduce the chemistry of oxidation-reduction equilibria, his lectures weave together seven separate story lines: the search for the fabled Northwest Passage, the fall of the Roman Empire, James Polk’s “54’40” or Fight” campaign slogan, heavy metal contamination in Flint Michigan and Minamata Bay, Japan, Prince Edward Island mussels, and climate change. The narrative is a mix of historians’ accounts of science and non-science events coupled to the chemistry and mathematics of chemical equilibria. Chemistry students cite these lectures as their favorite aspects of the courses which instill in them a greater desire to learn the material. To illustrate this narrative approach in our Chemistry and Literature course, we will turn to the example of Frankenstein. It is widely known, that the 1818 17

novel evolved from Mary Shelley’s efforts in a ghost story contest with Romantic poet Lord Byron and English physician and writer John William Polidori. But few students know of the more subtle cultural and science-based influences on Shelley. Beginning with discussion of the theatrical and visual culture of Frankenstein---from early productions on the London stage through a century of movies---we then turn to the rich social and scientific contexts of Mary Shelley’s novel. Using a combination of lectures and class discussions, we establish that the understanding of electrical phenomena and anatomy and physiology were in the midst of very public revolutions and the converging paradigm shifts from which modern chemistry emerged and separated from its alchemical roots. By the mid-1700s, the first crude electrical devices, static electricity generators and Leyden jars (the first capacitors), were in common use to study the electrical properties of substances. However, it was not known if all electrical phenomena were equivalent (e.g., lightening and static discharges). As told today, the story of Benjamin Franklin and his kite experiment is more the stuff of legend than of history, but, in fact, the experiment did prove that all electrical phenomena arise from the transfer of charge between objects. Franklin, one of the world’s foremost experts on electrochemistry, believed electricity was transferred via positive charge (the electron had not yet been discovered), and so today, the direction of current flow in electrical circuits, from the positive to negative electrode (a convention opposite to that of electron flow), honors his original contributions to science. Meanwhile in 1781, Luigi Galvani demonstrated that the electrical stimulation of nerves produced muscle contractions, which led him and others to believe that electricity was the Vital principle (22). Alessandro Volta agreed with Galvani that muscle contractions could be induced via electrical stimulation but that the source of the electric “principle” arose from an electrical discharge between the prongs of a bimetallic probe and was not due to an intrinsic “animal electricity (23).” In 1800, Volta developed the first electrochemical cell or pile – later known as a Voltaic pile in honor of his achievement---to prove the concept of bimetallic electricity. The pile was made from alternating plates of copper and zinc insulated from each other by cloth, or paperboard, soaked in a brine solution. Each cell, consisting of one copper plate and one zinc plate separated by paperboard, provided approximately one volt of electricity. All modern batteries operate based on the same underlying principles as the Voltaic pile. We use the term “battery” today because Franklin used the phrase to describe a set of Leyden jars connected in series, an arrangement similar to a battery of military armaments. The Voltaic pile was a significant discovery because battery cells could be constructed to achieve any magnitude of voltage and provide a constant source of electricity. In contrast, static electricity machines and Leyden jars instantaneously and completely discharged their voltages. By 1808 the alkali metals sodium and potassium (Na and K) and the alkaline earth elements magnesium, calcium, strontium, and barium (Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba) were discovered by Sir Humphry Davy using a voltaic pile. By the early-1800s, the major medical colleges had made rapid advances in understanding human physiology and recognized that electrical impulses were part of the communication network within neural pathways. The Murder Act of 1751 18

provided a new source of cadavers for the anatomy and physiology houses in England. At the time, thieving and murder were both capital offenses so in order to differentiate the severity with which the crimes were viewed, Parliament enacted a law which “for better preventing the horrid crime of murder” provided for “some further terror and peculiar mark of infamy be added to the punishment of death.” The added insult insured that the accused’s body would not be buried but instead sentenced to either public dissection or “hanging in chains”. All of the major medical schools, or Surgeon’s Colleges, in England and Europe offered weekly dissection demonstrations to the public in their anatomical theaters. Although these public displays were of scientific merit, some were quite gruesome---especially those performed on live animals. The experiments incurred widespread moral censure and helped fuel the antivivisection movement in England. Indeed, the rivalry between two preeminent early 1800s neurosurgeons, English physician Charles Bell and French physician Francois Magendie, over the identification and functions of motor and sensory nerve action was inflamed in part by Bell’s claim that these discoveries could be made via observation alone and not under the horrific conditions of the French vivisectionists (24). Convinced that animal electricity was the Vital principle, Galvanists performed public demonstrations on corpses using high power Voltaic piles. The first and most notable demonstration in England was the electrification of the corpse of the convicted murderer George Forster in 1803. A nephew of Galvani, Giovanni Aldini, performed the demonstration, explaining: “the experiments I did on the hanged criminal did not aim at reanimating the cadaver, but only to acquire a practical knowledge as to whether galvanism can be used as an auxiliary, and up to which it can override other means of reanimating a man under such circumstances (25).” The event was quite the spectacle: “On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion (26).” Because of the intensely competitive nature of anatomical and neurological research and the public popularity and, in some cases, infamy of the public dissections, the College of Surgeons regularly conducted these demonstrations on all hanging victims. In fact, the shortage of cadavers became so acute that acts of burking and the fear of being “burked”---being murdered and your cadaver sold for dissection (named after William Burke who was convicted of committing said act on multiple occasions)---were common newsprint articles, and prompted passage of the Anatomy Act of 1832. Many of the public demonstrations involving the Galvanism of corpses bordered on the spectacle conducted by charlatans operating under the guise of “authentic” research (27). The course delves much deeper into the electrical experiments conducted by the individuals mentioned above and others, and makes extensive use of hands-on demonstrations which, though informative, are also quite entertaining. Classroom demonstrations of homemade versions of static electricity generators, Leyden jars, and Voltaic piles, for example, augment class discussions of the science of the period. 19

Although not a common term of identification, the “Romantic” Scientists (Note: the term “scientist” was first used in 1824), which include Humphry Davy, Thomas Beddoes, William and Caroline Herschel, Joseph Banks and William Lawrence, were part of a close circle of friends with the Romantic Poets: Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge, Percy and Mary Shelley, and Robert Southey. These lectures, discussions, and demonstrations of the scientific issues and their social contexts are woven into the fabric of class discussions that produce intricate close readings of the novel itself. Students participate in group activities to develop readings of the novel in relationship to epistemological, social, and moral philosophies of the period that situate science in broader contexts of education, theories of human nature, social contract theory, gender issues, and the role of empirical observation in the development of knowledge (derived from brief passages from the writings of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, for example). The literary discussions of Frankenstein allow students to understand the way issues of scientific ambition, paradigm shifts, and scientific progress were part of larger social, c ultural, philosophical, psychological, and even political concerns of the period, for example, about the moral responsibilities of discovery, the impact of science on the social structure of the family and the state, as well as on the health of the psyche, the nature of loss and grief, and even about the fundamental nature of life itself and of the relationship of humans to nature and God. To teach the history of the scientific understandings of chemistry, biology (anatomy, physiology, and vitalism, for example), and electricity simply in terms of discoveries, experiments, and great scientists, as an older historiography of science would dictate, misses all of the social, cultural, and moral contexts of that science. Focusing on a literary text like Frankenstein brings all of these issues together in a compelling and thoughtful way that is accessible to any student in a General Education class with a little help from the instructors. Just as the Chemistry instructor must teach the students the historical as well as current understandings of the sciences invoked in Frankenstein, the English instructor must teach the students how to read a work of early 19th-century literature as a literary text. Close reading tools and careful attention to the implications of phrasing and literary techniques open up a much more sophisticated understanding of Mary Shelley’s text, of the meanings the text produces. And those textual analysis skills directly augment the complexity of the students’ understanding of the science of the period, which, across the semester, in turn gives them a more nuanced understanding of 21st-century science, technology, and society.

Course Assignments In developing the syllabus for a class where both the humanities student and the science student can feel at a disadvantage with respect to subject matter the other finds more familiar, it is important to consider a balanced set of graded assignments. We thought it best to develop several graded exercises that would align with the strengths of each type of student in roughly equal weight and to include some group assignments that would encourage students from different 20

backgrounds to collaborate together. The breakdown is as follows: two literary analysis papers of 6-8 pages in length (25% total), one science and culture paper 6-8 pages in length (10%), one group presentation on science and culture (10%), one group science demonstration (5%), class attendance and participation (10%), and a final exam (40%). The science and culture paper assignment asks students to write on a topic important to society and science during the time period between 1750 and the present. We advise students to narrow the thesis of the paper to a single issue but to avoid focusing on a biography of an individual or the narrow history of a single item. Instead, the paper should focus on the impact a particular area of science has had on society as evidenced in the arts and literature (or the reverse). The “area” should be well-defined and narrow in scope. For instance, the theory of evolution is too broad but focusing the narrative on a particular aspect of evolutionary principles is acceptable. We provide as an example the "Hockey Stick" graph, a plot representing Earth’s average temperature over time that became central to the larger controversy and debate over climate change. Many students choose topics relevant to their majors. As we wanted the course to be discussion-driven, we felt it important that the students have the opportunity to lead the class. The group presentation is a 15-minute presentation to the class on a topic germane to the course. The list of potential topics is immense but groups are encouraged to explore ideas from current events, journals, or accounts of scientific controversies, and they are told that their analysis should go beyond simple “good/bad” considerations. Some of the topics that have been presented include cloning and/or artificial life, embryonic stem cell research, pesticides or fertilizer, mood enhancing/altering drugs (including psychedelics), nanotechnology (including speculative aspects, such as Human Enhancement), fracking, mining, and their associated chemical technologies, climate change, the “Demarcation Problem” in the philosophy of science, science and warfare (chemical warfare in WWI, atomic warfare in WWII, biological warfare), the regulation of science (history of regulation, politics of uncertainty, risk culture, or debate about expertise and public irrationality), among many other topics. Though we encourage students to prepare a carefully focused presentation, we stopped enforcing the 15-minute time limit because the presentations stimulate high quality interactions among the students which often last upwards of an hour in a 75-minute class. The group demonstration is an assignment to promote chemical literacy, requiring students to conduct a science experiment and use science terminology in front of their peers. The demonstration can be an enhanced version of a demonstration currently used in any chemistry classroom illustrating an important chemical concept or it can be a completely new idea. Each member of the group is expected to understand the chemical principles behind the demonstration and to participate in the development and delivery of the presentation. The group demonstration is evaluated based on the following criteria: the significance of the scientific concept, the educational value or how well it demonstrates a scientific principle, the safety and practicality, and the entertainment value of the demonstration (whether the demonstration was engaging). 21

We spend a significant amount of time working with each student and group in developing the thesis topics for their papers and in developing their presentations. Almost all chemistry and physics departments have a science demonstration support facility and personnel that can work with faculty and students on their demonstrations and many of the demonstrations involve off-the-shelf equipment and supplies.

Curricular and Institutional Obstacles and Opportunities Inter- or cross-domain courses face a number of significant hurdles to achieve departmental buy-in and approval through the curricular review process. The success of such courses, from a faculty and student perspective, requires a substantial time commitment, at least initially, on the part of the faculty members developing and teaching the course. Both faculty must not only develop and integrate materials within their own specialized domains but also dovetail those materials with each other in a meaningful way. Proper coordination takes ongoing effort even beyond the initial offering. Often department heads are not so free with faculty release time (and by extension, faculty salary) to develop courses or to award full teaching credit for a collaborative teaching effort, especially when existing courses in the major and high enrollment service courses need to be taught. Departments that support inter-domain initiatives can encourage faculty to develop those courses by granting full-time teaching credit, at least during the development stage. These classes can also be strong candidates for other kinds of enhancement funds---to take students to a science and technology museum in the area or to bring an author to campus whose writing relates to the course focus. At most universities, ownership of such courses is also a matter of concern. Inter-domain courses tend to be pet projects that appeal to the interests of a particular faculty member and, if he or she leaves or rotates out of teaching, two departments are left with an orphaned course in the course catalog. One alternative approach is to link existing individual courses. Although developing links between two courses requires dedicated effort on the part of the faculty instructors, each instructor receives full course credit for their teaching assignment as opposed to half-time credit for a shared course. Students are required to take both courses, which may be a significant drawback for students who discover that the first course in the two-course sequence does not meet their expectations or stimulate their interests. Penn State’s recent General Education revision now requires students to take either two courses that are certified as inter-domain or two linked courses that address a subject from two different disciplinary perspectives. Our course works well as a stand-alone inter-domain course but other institutions that offer classes like our linked course option, could support an initiative similar to our course but offered instead as linked Chemistry and English courses. Such an approach might gain curricular flexibility and avoid asking administrators to expend the resources required to offer team-taught courses. But it would lose the synergies and energies of class discussions shaped by a Chemistry and an English instructor interacting 22

in the same room, teaching material together, and modelling cross-disciplinary conversation directly to the students. By their very nature, inter-domain courses are not exact equivalents to their peer-specialized domain courses. Student learning outcomes in inter-domain courses differ significantly from the other same-level courses within the Chemistry and English programs, as the cross-disciplinary integrative thinking is the major goal itself. Other faculty, including members of a Faculty Senate, may not fully appreciate or agree with such approaches, deeming inter-domain courses an easy way to earn a general education credit from a particular program. However, the current cafeteria-style selection of general education courses do not readily map to a set of core competencies and rarely relate back to a student’s major. As a result, students typically view general education courses as unnecessary and a waste of time (2, 28). The Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute strongly advocate the redesign of college programs to outcome-based competency-driven general education curricula; therefore, the traditional approach seems likely to wane as a viable model for developing core twenty‐first century skills. The enthusiastic engagement with science as a vital, if contested, aspect of our 21st century culture that we hope our class cultivates pays off in developing the cross-disciplinary collaborative critical thinking skills that are the goals of many emerging General Education curricula. Whether a university assesses its curriculum in terms of outcome-based competencies or other more traditional educational aims, a course that integrates the perspectives of the humanities and the sciences is certain to provide a valuable experience for any student, and we think that chemistry is so central to many of the key social, cultural, political, and moral issues of the 21st century that a course linking chemistry and literature could win the approval and support of your college or university.

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4. 5.

National Leadership Council for Liberal Education & America’s Promise. College Learning for the New Global Century; Association of American Colleges and Universities: Washington, DC, 2007; p 19. Laird, T. F. N.; Garver, A. K. The Effect of Teaching General Education Courses on Deep Approaches to Learning: How Disciplinary Context Matters. Res. Higher Educ. 2010, 51, 248–265. For example, see the call for integration in the curriculum in The National Task Force on Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement. A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future; Association of American Colleges and Universities: Washington, DC, 2012. Kuhn, T. S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed.; University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, 1963. Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959); Martino Publishing: Mansfield Centre, CT, 2013; p 4. 23

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24. Gallistel, C. R. Bell, Magendie, and the proposals to restrict the use of animals in neurobehavioral research. Am. Psych. 1981, 36, 357–360. 25. Parent, A. Giovanni Aldini: From Animal Electricity to Human Brain Stimulation. Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 2004, 31, 576–584. 26. "George Foster Executed at Newgate, 18th of January, 1803, for the Murder of his Wife and Child, by drowning them in the Paddington Canal; with a Curious Account of Galvanic Experiments on his Body". The Newgate Calendar, London, 1803. 27. Morus, I. R. Shocking bodies: Life, death & electricity in Victorian England; The History Press: Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2011. 28. Vander Schee, B. A. Changing General Education Perceptions through Perspectives and the Interdisciplinary First-Year Seminar. Int. J. Teach. Learn. Higher Educ.. 2011, 23, 382–387.


Chapter 3

Infusing the Liberal Arts Mission Across Chemistry Curricula and Beyond Demetra A. C. Czegan,*,1 Diane M. Miller,2 and James Kabrhel3 1Seton

Hill University, 1 Seton Hill Drive, Box 226K, Greensburg, Pennsylvania 15601, United States 2Seton Hill University, 1 Seton Hill Drive, Box 372F, Greensburg, Pennsylvania 15601, United States 3University of Wisconsin - Sheboygan, 1 University Drive, Sheboygan, Wisconsin 53081, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

In an effort to develop scientists with critical thinking skills, character, and an interdisciplinary perspective, liberal arts ideals have been incorporated into the chemistry major curricula at Seton Hill University and University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan. In particular, real world applications have been used to expand the scope of traditionally covered content and connect with institutional missions. Examples from both introductory and upper-level courses are discussed, as well as activities extending beyond the chemistry curriculum. The course assignments incorporate a wide variety of liberal arts learning objectives, including information literacy, creativity, communication, interpersonal skills, and ethics.

Introduction The mission of a liberal arts institution coincides with a goal shared by many science educators: a desire to develop scholars who, upon matriculation, are ready to communicate effectively and think critically as members of a healthy society. We want scientists who understand why knowing some history or philosophy or art makes them better scientists. We want scientists who not only comprehend scientific principles but also have the capacity to read, write, and speak about them. To achieve this, we need to help students learn how to make connections © 2017 American Chemical Society

between science and other disciplines. Moreover, if we do not incorporate liberal arts experiences into our science courses, we may inadvertently imply to students that the subjects are segregated; modeling the joining of the two sends a message to students that it is important. Chemistry coursework needs to provide ample opportunities for students to hone their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and assignments should incorporate an appropriate level of interdisciplinary context. Scientific concepts routinely have real-world applications, and those applications can have significant consequences on the environment, on people, and on large economies. Due to these consequences, students cannot simply analyze the science but also must think about the ethical, economical, and environmental implications of enacting those concepts in practical ways. Adding another dynamic to chemistry courses can be challenging because the courses tend to be content heavy; however, chemistry’s many real-world applications provide a natural and easy way to expand the focus of course assignments, allowing for the exploration of interdisciplinary themes. Some aspects of the liberal arts mission are a seamless fit with the goals of the chemistry curriculum. For example, there are numerous examples of information literacy assignments being used in major-level courses (1). Other aspects, such as ethics, seem to be included less routinely; yet, there are meaningful and manageable ways in which this material has been incorporated (2–5). Here, we describe how we have integrated the liberal arts and institutional missions into the chemistry coursework at all levels within the major at Seton Hill University and University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan. This comprehensive approach to merging mission with chemical education also extends to activities that engage and support the community. The presented assignments (both adapted and novel) and activities emphasize real-world applications and context, such as religious ethics or the impact of pseudoscience on society. This provides students with interdisciplinary connections and a deeper, more meaningful perspective and understanding of chemistry.

Seton Hill University Background on the Institution and Mission Seton Hill University is a small, private Catholic liberal arts university, located in southwestern Pennsylvania. The number of graduating chemistry/biochemistry majors fluctuates, averaging approximately four to six students per year in the past ten years. The college has the following mission statement: “Seton Hill is a Catholic university rooted in Judeo-Christian values. In the tradition of Elizabeth Ann Seton, we educate students to think and act critically, creatively, and ethically as productive members of society committed to transforming the world.” As noted in the mission, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is an influential force on the culture of the institution, and she is often quoted. Particularly pervasive is her belief that educators should look to the future and dedicate their work with students “to fit them for the world in which [they are] destined to live” (6). 28

Introductory Coursework Information literacy—and, more specifically, science literacy—is critical to success in the world of science. Thus, we introduce these concepts as soon as students begin coursework within the major. In General Chemistry I, this is done with a three-part series of assignments that has been described in detail elsewhere (7). The first assignment provides students with experience in finding and critically evaluating sources of information, and the second involves reading an instructor-selected journal article and identifying its strengths and weaknesses. For the final portion, students are asked to make and communicate a decision in response to a real-world scenario. In one of the scenarios, for example, students are asked to serve as a scientific writer for a women’s magazine and write an article addressing an e-mail rumor that antiperspirant deodorant causes breast cancer and is unsafe to use. To inform their decision, they are provided with a closed pool of information from various sources, such as news articles, web resources, pamphlets, and primary literature. In the co-requisite laboratory course, in addition to introducing students to lab report writing, we emphasize the technical skills that students are gaining; supporting our Setonian mission to “fit [our students] for the world” (6). For each experiment, new lab techniques are highlighted in the handout and in pre-lab lecture, and students are required to identify these learning objectives in their lab notebooks. These skills are showcased in a video tutorial assignment. Each student creates an instructional video that illustrates his or her ability to perform an assigned technique. Examples of topics include how to use a buret, how to make a boiling water bath, and how to filter by suction filtration. The videos are graded for clarity, accuracy, and creativity. Then, as a final project in the first semester lab course, students give a presentation to the class on a possible career with a science degree. The focus on building skills from a career perspective continues in the second semester lab as well. In culmination, each student completes a lab practical as a final exam and creates a “resume,” in which he or she compiles an organized list of the methods, techniques, and instruments used in the two courses. Physical Chemistry Both the Thermodynamics and Quantum Mechanics lecture courses have been recently revised to utilize flipped-classroom approaches; content is provided through videos watched outside of class, and students spend class time working in small groups. Thermodynamics is completely flipped. In Quantum Mechanics, half of the class meetings are flipped, and lecture is used for the other half. One of the motivations for moving to this approach was that the small-group setting would promote the development of students’ soft skills (8). Teamwork is an important component of many careers, and one of Seton Hill’s liberal arts learning objectives is to “demonstrate leadership, negotiation, relational, and consensus skills,” but the lecture classroom does not typically provide much time for the practice of these skills. Thus, the switch was made toward collaborative learning, and a Team-Based Learning (9) approach was taken, in which students focus on solving problems in groups. As an instructor, this has been a powerful experience 29

to witness; in addition to learning content, students have demonstrated noticeable improvement in their soft skills over the course of the semester, and they have gained an increased awareness of their strengths and weaknesses in interacting with others. In addition to revising the format of the Quantum Mechanics course, the scope of the content was broadened. Quantum Mechanics is highly mathematical in nature, which can make the course quite challenging for students and obscure the concepts. Consequently, a reading and a paired series of reflection essays, as described by Comeford (10), were adopted in an effort to provide a stronger connection between the math and its conceptual applications. The book, In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat by John Gribbin, provides students with a historical, human perspective of the theory and development of quantum mechanics. It highlights the struggle in the scientific community that gave birth to quantum mechanics, and it provides broad connections to many science-fiction concepts. The essays were assessed for deep reflection and insightful personalization of the theories and concepts, clarity, and written quality. Students have been receptive to this approach, and it has provided the instructor with a gauge of where, conceptually, students are having difficulty with the material. Moreover, students have written some excellent reflections, and it has been gratifying to see them make broad, interdisciplinary connections. For example, one student drew a parallel between the hard-to-reconcile concept of wave-particle duality and language, pointing out that there are some words in other languages that have no adequate translation in English. Another compared the difference in observing a quantum experiment versus a biology experiment to the difference in viewing an Elizabethan-era play versus a television show. Both of the co-requisite lab courses use process-oriented guided-inquiry learning physical chemistry laboratory (POGIL-PCL) experiments (11). These experiments are inquiry driven, and each begins with a conceptual question. Students, working in small groups, are guided through a series of questions that accompany the data collection and analysis. POGIL-PCL experiments are designed to foster process skills in students, and they give students experience in experimental design, applying models, and critical thinking. In addition, many of the POGIL-PCL experiments include a connection to a real-world application, such as the optimization of a food-soaking method (12) and the evaluation of a phase change material for use in drywall (13). The important role of creative and critical thought in the POGIL-PCL experiments ties well with Seton Hill’s mission, and these experiments aid in preparing students to do independent research, a potential next step in their undergraduate or graduate careers. Instrumental Analysis The instrumental analysis course provides further opportunities for students to make connections to real-world applications and to develop oral communication skills. Students are asked to write a paper and give a presentation on an area in which an instrumental method is currently used (e.g., the use of LCMS for forensics). This assignment requires a literature search; students must include at least three recent examples from the primary literature. At the end of the semester, 30

each student presents on his or her topic, so the whole class is then exposed to numerous examples of how instrumental analysis methods are being used in the modern research field. The papers describe the instrumental method in addition to the applications and are assessed for understanding of scientific concepts, clarity, thoroughness, organization, and grammar. The presentations, which focus primarily on the applications, are assessed for accuracy, clarity, thorough succinctness (i.e., the ability to identify the most important aspects and present them in a compact manner without diluting the information), visual appeal, and presentation style components (e.g., pace, confidence, volume, etc.). This course also requires a semester-long instrument maintenance project. In particular, this assignment fosters stewardship, a quality that we, as a Catholic institution, wish to instill in our students. Each student is assigned to an instrument, and he or she then performs regular maintenance tasks (such as instrument self-check procedures and the testing of standards) and records the results in a log book. This project provides students an opportunity to become more advanced users of an instrument and the potential to troubleshoot problems that may arise. In addition, each student creates a video tutorial that covers the theory of the instrumental method and basic instructions for the operation of the instrument. Completion of the maintenance is assessed for thorough and correct implementation and documentation; the videos are assessed for accuracy, clarity, quality, and creativity. Inorganic Chemistry Seton Hill University’s mission statement not only addresses an identity as a liberal arts institution but also as a Catholic institution. At Catholic universities, the principles of Catholic social justice can be used as a mode for faculty members to incorporate the religious aspect of mission into their courses (14). A biannual workshop, sponsored by Seton Hill’s committee for mission and faculty, guides participating faculty members through a syllabus revision process directed at integrating Catholic social teaching (CST) into the course content. The basic principles of CST include the following (15): • • • • • • •

Dignity of Life and the Human Person Call to Family, Community, and Participation (Constructive Role of Government) Personal Rights and Responsibilities for Others Preferential Option for the Poor Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers Solidarity (The Common Good) Care for God’s Creation (Stewardship)

CST, which is rooted in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, provides a framework for students to think critically and ethically about topics related to the content of a course. It is important to note that this is not designed to be a tool for faith conversion; rather, all varieties of religious backgrounds are valued for their perspective and dialogue on related issues. The Inorganic Chemistry course was 31

modified to incorporate CST, providing an opportunity for students to think about how chemical principles connect with social justice topics, as well as diffusing liberal arts objectives into the course. Why study science? This question lies at the heart of why an ethical framework, such as CST, is relevant to any area of knowledge, even to a content-heavy course such as Inorganic Chemistry. Most scientists and students of the sciences will probably admit that one of the primary reasons they study science is because, of course, they find it interesting. However, many of them would also agree that, on a deeper level, it is so they can use science to make a difference in some way. Whether it is searching for a cure for cancer as a medical researcher, working as a doctor or dentist to keep people healthy, developing products such as better paints or laundry detergents to make our lives easier, or designing more efficient solar cell technology to reduce carbon footprints; scientists seek to make the world a better place through their work. Humanity uses science to understand how the world works, how to make it work better, and what could harm it. There is no doubt that for all the ways science and technology can make the world better, it could also destroy it; thus, it should be essential that students of science begin to develop an ethical awareness. The importance and necessity of expanding chemical education to include humanities, such as philosophy, ethics, history, and social sciences has been reported (16). The inorganic chemistry course discussed here is a junior/senior-level descriptive course with a prerequisite of two semesters of both general and organic chemistry. To incorporate CST, the intersection between metals and metallic compounds with life and society, both past and present, was brought into expanded focus. Additional learning objectives and assignments were added to address historical scenarios in which science has impacted society, the use of inorganic chemistry to support the common good, and the role of government regulation and funding in chemistry. In an institution without a religious affiliation, a “science, technology & society” (STS) perspective might be taken instead. STS is an interdisciplinary field that examines how science and society impact one another. STS is often integrated into liberal arts science courses for nonmajors and can be a useful tool for bringing mission and liberal arts goals into major-level science courses (14). Since Seton Hill has an institutionally directed effort to use CST for integrating mission, the junior/senior-level students in this course have already been taught CST principles in previous courses. However, time during the first course meeting is used to review the principles and begin to think about and discuss how they relate to chemistry. The first topic covered in the course is nuclear chemistry, which provides a relatively obvious link between chemistry and ethics: the atomic bomb. Two documentary films from PBS are assigned to students to be viewed outside of class time. The first, The Bomb (17), focuses on the historical development and use of the atomic bomb through the cold war. The second, Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail (18), presents a variety of ways uranium and its daughter isotopes have impacted the world, including nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and nuclear medicine. After viewing each documentary, students write a reflection paper on the content of film and how CST principles provide a lens for interpretation and communication of the moral 32

and ethical concerns brought to light. The reflection papers are assessed for depth of reflection, including thinking beyond obvious links and demonstrating original thought, clear communication, and written quality. After both films have been viewed, class time is used for discussion. Later in the semester, a third PBS documentary film, The Poisoner’s Handbook (19), is assigned to students to view. This documentary follows the careers of Charles Norris, New York City’s first scientifically trained medical examiner, and his chief toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, from 1918 through 1959. It provides a historical context from which many modern day government regulations arose, and some of the scenarios also involve inorganic chemistry. Again, students write a reflection paper and participate in class discussions on the content. For the class discussions, students are broken into smaller groups of three to five, and each group is given a set of questions. The students select questions one at a time and are required to answer only the question(s) they pick up; however, they are also welcome to add thoughts and input on other questions if they wish. The instructor spends some time with each group, probing students to think more deeply about their answers. During the last ten minutes of discussion time, the groups share the most interesting ideas/concepts from their discussions with the class. Below is a sampling of some of the questions used: •

The Manhattan Project was a massive scientific undertaking; the best scientists from all over the country and the world were brought together and given an essentially limitless budget to reach one specific goal. If we could replicate this effort today, what would you want the scientific goal to be? Why? How does this impact the “common good?” The same scientist who originally advocated that the US should be working to develop a nuclear weapon before Nazi Germany did, later repealed his stance when he realized that Germany was not making progress on it. Are there any scientific topics you feel strongly enough about to advocate for politically? Are there any scientific topics you’ve changed your opinion on once you learned more? President Coolidge felt strongly that too much government regulation and involvement in business was bad, which helped pave the path for leaded gasoline to remain in production for decades longer than it should have. In politics today, government regulation remains a current issue. How do you feel about this topic? Has the historical framework presented in the film caused you to think about the topic in a different way? What would CST principles suggest the role of government should be? Throughout this semester, we have looked at a variety of ways that science intertwines with principles of CST. How has your own awareness of the role of science in upholding and applying these principles grown? Have you been surprised by the connections you have made?

During the class discussion times, the role of government in regulation and funding of sciences is reviewed, leading into the next assignment, a political letter. In groups of two ro three, students write a letter to a local or national politician of their choice to voice support or concern for a scientifically related issue that 33

correlates to inorganic chemistry in some way. Regard for the principles of CST must be demonstrated; they do not need to be explicitly referenced in the letter, however, evidence of their influence on rationale should be present. The letters are assessed for clearly articulating the issue, why it is important, and what action they wish to see taken, in addition to grammar and written quality. To date, these letters have not actually been mailed; however, it is planned for future course offerings to highlight real world application and encourage civic engagement. A Nobel Prize Poster Presentation assignment was developed to have students explore ways chemical research can support the common good, since Nobel Laureates have often been awarded for scientific developments that have improved our lives. In this assignment, students select a winner of the Nobel Prize in inorganic, nuclear, or physical chemistry and prepare a poster presentation covering the science behind the prize, bibliography of the scientist, and relevant CST principles. A template is not provided; the only requirement is the size (42” square), and students are encouraged to be creative with the visual presentation. The posters are assessed based on the following criteria: thorough bibliography of the laureate, accurate portrayal of scientific contribution, well-developed description of the correlation to the common good (or other CST principles), visual appeal, good written quality, and correct grammar. The best posters are printed and displayed in October during Nobel Prize week. This assignment ties into the university’s liberal arts learning objective “to use expressive arts as a mode of expression.” In addition to the assignments that have been specifically designed to integrate CST principles into the inorganic course, students also do a set of element presentations to provide the class with an overview of a variety of elements. Two series of presentations are done, main group elements and transition metals; each student gives two presentations, one from each category. The content of the presentations varies depending on the element and how extensively it is used and may contain information such as: basic properties (mass, isotopic distribution, relative abundance, appearance, etc.), reactivity, common compounds, historical and modern uses, notable concerns (toxicity, environmental, shortages, etc.), and a current research application. The last item is required; all presentations must contain an example of how the element plays a role in current research work and should cite a minimum of one recent peer-reviewed journal article. These presentations help students develop scientific literacy and communication skills. Students also write a summary paper (one to two pages) discussing interesting facts learned through the presentations and highlighting evidence of periodic trends. Although a great deal of additional work was added into the course, students generally seem to enjoy these assignments and it leads to increased student engagement and enthusiasm about the material. As part of an upper-level course, the CST additions provide the opportunity for students to combine their foundational chemistry knowledge with the liberal arts in a culminating experience.


Outreach Activities In addition to coursework, majors are encouraged to participate in our ACS Student Affiliates chapter, especially in the capacity of community outreach. The chapter’s activities include various opportunities for civic engagement, such as using demonstrations to teach children chemistry concepts at local chemistry fairs, expanding the education of home-schooled middle school students through an oncampus workshop, and encouraging environmental responsibility by cleaning up litter through Adopt-A-Highway. Students also hold various on-campus events to promote science and educate Seton Hill students on scientific concepts, such as the mole.

Senior Capstone Several other institutions have shared their versions of a chemistry capstone requirement; however, the majority of these capstones are courses that focus on a specific chemistry topic, such as culinary chemistry (20), nanotechnology (21), chemical research (22, 23), and supramolecular chemistry (24). Only a few have shared examples of capstone courses that incorporate broader themes, by including the history and philosophy of science (25) and considering a moral and societal context (25, 26). At Seton Hill, the capstone integrates both chemistry and the liberal arts. Graduating seniors complete the capstone in their final semester; it includes an exam, a portfolio, a reflection paper, and an oral presentation. The exam focuses on chemistry concepts, and an emphasis is placed on real-world applications. In the first portion, students are tasked with a structure elucidation from data (1H-NMR, 13C-NMR, GC-MS, IR, and elemental analysis), and in the second portion, students are asked to provide a synthesis for the determined compound. In the third portion, students are given application questions (27) that utilize concepts covered in upper-level courses. The remainder of the capstone requires students to reflect on their personal growth at Seton Hill, and how courses, particular assignments, and extracurricular activities have transformed them. Students are tasked with using the portfolio, reflection paper, and presentation to demonstrate to the chemistry faculty how they have both satisfied and integrated Seton Hill’s chemistry and liberal arts learning objectives. Taken together, the portfolio, paper, and presentation provide our program with an overview of how well we are fulfilling our chemistry and liberal arts missions, and the capstone provides us with a chance to reflect on how we can make improvements to our assignments toward the achievement of this goal. Over the years, our observation of student capstones has shown that although we are hoping students make the connections between major and liberal arts objectives, many students are inclined to compartmentalize. If we expect students to see how the liberal arts are relevant to chemistry and how chemistry is a small slice of the liberal arts, we need to model this through our course expectations. This has been a driving force for many of the assignments presented in the chapter. 35

University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Background on the Institution and Mission The University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan is one of the UW-Colleges, which are two-year transfer institutions within the University of Wisconsin System. The UW-Colleges provide general education courses along with the first two years of most majors. The UW-Colleges, with its liberal arts mission, embraces critical thinking as an essential part of the curriculum, not only with the breadth of courses, but the depth of courses as well. The total enrollment in the UW-Colleges is about 9000 students, with 750 students at the UW-Sheboygan campus. The mission statement is: “The University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, as the local campus of the University of Wisconsin Colleges, provides a challenging and supportive Liberal Arts environment that offers individual attention to students of diverse backgrounds and abilities. As an institution dedicated to critical thought and exploration, UW-Sheboygan fosters lifelong learning, leadership, civic engagement, and intellectual growth among its students, faculty, and staff. Our campus is committed to sharing these ideals with our city and surrounding regions so that together we form one learning community.”

Pseudoscience in General Chemistry Project Video projects have been used in the General Chemistry sequence to promote information literacy and critical thinking skills, which have been described previously (28). The aim of the assignment is for students to compare sources of information, gauge the quality, and connect them to a particular concept or consumer product. The video project and supporting assignments charged students with finding some topic or consumer product supported by pseudoscience, debunking the pseudoscience presented therein, and describing the real science related to it. In the video project, one method students were required to use was the PseudoBS Meter (28), shown in Figure 1. Preceding assignments to the video project focused on training students to acquire the appropriate information to complete the project. In particular, students were shown where to find primary literature via the appropriate search engines. This qualitative metric forced students to consider the quality of information sources before using it in their project. Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) (29) surveys were used to gauge how the students felt they were helped by the video project and related assignments. The SALG website provides basic surveys, and specific questions about the video project were added. The results of the SALG surveys show that students did appreciate the pseudoscience video project and found that it, and related assignments (28), helped their learning (greater than half the respondents of those surveyed).


Figure 1. PseudoBS Meter. Reproduced from reference (28). Copyright 2016 American Chemical Society.

Organic Chemistry Assignments and Projects The UW-Colleges do not offer Organic Chemistry as an in-person class on every one of the thirteen UW-College campuses. The enrollments on some campuses (typically less than ten) are too low to warrant an instructor dedicated to the campus for the course, so distance education is used to make sure that all thirteen campuses have the courses. The UW-Manitowoc and UW-Sheboygan Organic Chemistry sections are taught via Point-to-Point (P2P) compressed video as one course, with the instructor present at each campus once a week. Each campus has between 4 and 8 students each semester.

First-Semester Literature Assignment In the first semester of the two-semester Organic Chemistry sequence at UWSheboygan, a literary research project has been included to help train chemistry students to compare the results of simple web searches (traditionally Google) and the results of a search at a scholarly journal website. A goal of this assignment is to make sure that students analyze the type of information that they are being presented with. A website that is designed to encourage the purchase of a drug will be designed differently and present the science in a different way than a peer-reviewed journal article. The UW-Colleges have access to the American Chemistry Society (ACS) website, so that is where the students are required to 37

search for journal articles. (The colleges do have access to other journals via interlibrary campus loan if the students need an article from a non-ACS journal.) The students are tasked with taking an FDA-approved drug molecule and searching for any information about that molecule, writing down the first three results of each search. For drug molecules, the websites typically displayed first in the Google search are (30), (31), Wikipedia (32), and the websites for a marketed form of the drug. Some time is spent in class providing example searches and making sure the students understand the difference between a journal article, a book chapter, any revisions of errors, and other possible search results. Students are encouraged to explore the websites and several journals after their search is complete. The final part of this assignment is a written summary and comparison of the two search results. Students comment on what kind of websites they find in the Google search and the scientific quality of the information they find on those websites. The comparison between information geared towards marketing a drug (from the manufacturer’s website for instance) and that of a peer-reviewed scientific journal should encourage the student to do some critical thinking about the general quality of peer-reviewed scientific information as compared to scientific information filtered through a corporation looking for profit. A brief discussion in class occurs after the assignment is completed to highlight the differences between the two types of searches. At this point in the first semester, the class does not have enough experience to be able to truly analyze the chemical reactions in a peer-review synthesis paper. For this reason, the full video project that is based on a peer-review synthesis paper is saved for the second semester. However, the students are told about the second-semester video project, and that they can use the molecules for this literature assignment for their second-semester project.

Second Semester Video Project Many real-world examples are already included in Organic Chemistry (thalidomide, taxol, various polymers, depending on the concept discussed), but these are often covered briefly due to the large amount of conceptual material in the course. This project is designed to provide a more significant foray into real world connections. It is worth noting that most of the students taking Organic Chemistry at UW-Sheboygan have taken General Chemistry on campus, which includes the previously mentioned group video project about pseudoscience and chemistry. Thus, they already have experience with creating a video and the necessity of incorporating interdisciplinary material. The project is assigned to the class on the first day of the semester, with the instructions and rubric included in the course syllabus. Each group consists of three or four students (though groups of two have been allowed in low-enrollment semesters), and the length of the video produced must be between four and seven minutes. This time frame allows for a brief introduction of the pharmaceutical molecule, what it treats, how it is marketed, and a quick explanation of the synthesis. The synthesis is required to include a reaction already covered in 38

the course, and students provide a more in-depth discussion of that reaction. The groups have seven weeks to identify a molecule they wish to study and get instructor approval. An outline of the information to be presented in the video, including the focus synthesis reaction, is due at the beginning of April. The project and summary are due during the last week of the semester in May. Assessment of the video project focuses on the synthesis content and the analysis of the marketing of the drug, with the synthetic content of the project comprising the most points on the rubric. Frequently, the reactions profiled in depth are substitutions, Diels-Alder reactions, or simple reductions. The students are encouraged to describe the mechanism of the reaction if it has been covered in class. Some points are awarded for having all students pictured in the video, because in years past, some students were hesitant to be on screen and resorted to “editing” or narrating the video. Since part of the goal of these video projects is to help students gain presentation skills, presenting on camera is a requirement. There still is some imbalance in the amount of screen time for all the participants, but adjustments will be made for future iterations of the assignment. The summary paper must include all the information presented in the video, including background, the focal point reaction, and all the references. One of the references is the primary synthetic paper, but students are encouraged to look at other peer-reviewed sources, including medical journals and secondary syntheses. The remainder of the sources are the drug company websites, WebMD (31), (30), and other similar websites that offer medical information. Project topics have included acetaminophen, aspirin, salbutamol, haloperidol, doxylamine succinate, and naproxen. Most groups perform a “chalk-talk” when presenting the full synthesis, and then show the full mechanism of the reaction for which they go into more detail. Discussions of the way the drug is marketed are sometimes presented in the format of a “commercial” within the video, allowing the students an area for creativity. The marketing analysis focuses on what particular media are used for that particular drug, whether mostly internet articles and websites, television and streaming commercials, magazines and newspapers, etc. The amount of time in the videos given to this aspect of the project varies for each group but does not typically last more than a minute—most of the video is typically reserved for the synthesis. In future semesters, a SALG survey or surveys will be incorporated to provide insight into how much the students feel they are gaining from the synthesis aspect of the project, as well as from the connection of organic chemistry to the way the drugs are presented in the media. Guest Lectures in Philosophy With the liberal arts philosophy at the UW-Colleges, instructors are encouraged to create interdisciplinary courses. These courses are developed with one of two major benchmarks. The first benchmark is to have two instructors from different departments, each leading the course at least 20 percent of the time. The other benchmark is to include at least 20 percent of the instruction time filled with guest lecturers from outside the main instructor’s department. 39

Over the past several years, chemistry lectures have been given at the beginning of PHI210, Thinking Critically: Science and Pseudoscience. These lectures have been titled, “The Myth and Meaning of Chemical Free,” “Vaccines: A Discussion of Skepticism and Peer-Review,” “The Truth and Lies of GMOs,” and “Cool to be Gluten Free.” Each lecture has a basis in the debunking of pseudoscience topics, before going into more specifics related to the topic. The “chemical free” lecture first described the misused term “chemical-free,” along with related terms “natural” and “organic.” Discussions of the usage of these terms were made in concert with several examples of dietary supplements, and the proliferation of organic foods. The vaccine lecture included a lengthy discussion of the nature and use of vaccines, and then changed to highlight Andrew Wakefield and his fraudulent studies and how this led to the anti-vax movement. The GMO (genetically modified organisms) lecture provided background on how GMOs are made, several specific GMO crops, and the vast arguments on safety and efficacy. The most recent lecture addressed gluten, celiac disease, other celiac issues, along with the gluten-free industry. Each of these lectures has also been presented as part of a community seminar series on the UW-Sheboygan campus (33–36). This series highlights the research of various faculty members, not only those from the UW-Sheboygan campus. Students from all chemistry courses (General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Introductory Chemistry, and Biochemistry) are encouraged to attend, and are often given extra credit by their instructors. The lectures are also recorded by the local cable-access TV station which is on the campus, and videos are kept in an online catalog for later viewing. The campus also has a regular TV program called “Thinking Out Loud,” hosted by the campus dean and highlighting the scholarly work of faculty on campus. The lecture titled “Chemical Free” was one of the first episodes of “Thinking Out Loud.” These lectures and TV episodes will be continued in the future, perhaps with different topics that provoke discussions about the nature of the understanding of science, and the prevalence of pseudoscience.

Conclusion At Seton Hill and UW-Sheboygan, the incorporation of interdisciplinary topics, writing and video assignments, and discussions of ethics has provided a more well-rounded science education for students in the chemistry major. These assignments infuse the liberal arts mission into a discipline that is often very concept-centric, adding depth to courses and supporting the goals of the campuses to provide an education that invites students to think critically about the world and communities in which they live. Incorporation of Catholic social teaching into an advanced course like Inorganic Chemistry has allowed students to view important innovations in chemistry with an ethical eye and has provided a perspective into how chemistry played a role in significant historical events. Similar discussions in Organic Chemistry—centered on how drugs are marketed, or how GMOs impact society, or how gluten is used as part of fad diets—also provide more deep and varied discussions of science in concept-heavy classes. The benefit for 40

the students of our institutions is a deep foundation that goes beyond conceptual understanding of chemistry and allows our students to, as both citizens and scientists, apply critical thinking and ethical analysis to real world issues.

References 1.





6. 7.


9. 10. 11.

12. 13.

Currano, J. N. Chemical Information Literacy: A Brief History and Current Practices. In Integrating Information Literacy into the Chemistry Curriculum; Flener Lovitt, C., Shuyler, K., Li, Y., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 1232; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2016; pp 1–30 and references therein. Baker Jones, M. L.; Seybold, P. G. Combining Chemical Information Literacy, Communication Skills, Career Preparation, Ethics, and Peer Review in a Team-Taught Chemistry Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 439–443. Singiser, R. H.; Clower, C. E.; Burnett, S. C. Preparing Ethical Chemists through a Second-Year Seminar Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89, 1144–1147. McClure, C. P.; Lucius, A. L. Implementing and Evaluating a Chemistry Course in Chemical Ethics and Civic Responsibility. J. Chem. Educ. 2010, 87, 1171–1175. Fisher, E. R.; Levinger, N. E. A Directed Framework for Integrating Ethics into Chemistry Curricula and Programs Using Real and Fictional Case Studies. J. Chem. Educ. 2008, 85, 796–801. McNeil, B. A. Elizabeth Seton—Mission of Education: Faith and Willingness to Risk. Vincentian Heritage J. 1996, 17, 185–200. Miller, D. M.; Chengelis Czegan, D. A. Integrating the Liberal Arts and Chemistry: A Series of General Chemistry Assignments to Develop Science Literacy. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 864–869. Muth, G. W. Biochemistry and the Liberal Arts: Content and Communication in a Flipped Classroom. In The Flipped Classroom Volume 2: Results from Practice; Muzyka, J. L., Luker, C. S., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 1228; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2016; pp 127−138 and references therein. Team-Based Learning Collaborative. (accessed March 25, 2017). Comeford, L. Writing Assignments in Physical Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 1997, 74, 392. Hunnicutt, S. S.; Grushow, A.; Whitnell, R. Guided-Inquiry Experiments for Physical Chemistry: The POGIL-PCL Model. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 262–268. Pacheco, M. Can We Make Stew with These Beans? POGIL-PCL Group (Web), 2016. Hunnicutt, S. How Is the Freezing Point of a Binary Mixture of Solids Related to the Composition of the Mixture? POGIL-PCL Group (Web), 2014. 41

14. Warner, K. D.; Caudill, D. S. Science, Technology, and Catholic Identity in the Education of Professionals. J. Cath. Educ. 2013, 16, 237–263. 15. Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions. http:/ / (accessed March 25, 2017). 16. Frank, H.; Campanella, L.; Dondi, F.; Mehlich, J.; Leitner, E.; Rossi, G.; Ioset, K. N.; Bringmann, G. Ethics, Chemistry, and Education for Sustainability. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2011, 50, 8482–8490. 17. The Bomb. DeNooyer, R., Dir.; PBS, 2015. bomb/ (accessed March 25, 2017). 18. Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail. Fimeri, W., Dir.; PBS, 2015. (accessed March 25, 2017). 19. The Poisoner’s Handbook. Rapley, R., Dir.; PBS, 2014. wgbh/americanexperience/films/poisoners/ (accessed March 25, 2017). 20. Symcox, K. Putting It All Together: A Capstone Course in Culinary Chemistry. In Using Food to Stimulate Interest in the Chemistry Classroom; Symcox, K., Ed.; ACS Symposium Series 1130; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2013; pp 99–114. 21. Samet, C. A Capstone Course in Nanotechnology for Chemistry Majors. J. Nano Educ. 2009, 1, 15–21. 22. Schepmann, H. G.; Hughes, L. A. Chemical Research Writing: A Preparatory Course for Student Capstone Research. J. Chem. Educ. 2006, 83, 1024–1028. 23. Iimoto, D. S.; Frederick, K. A. Incorporating Student-Designed Research Projects in the Chemistry Curriculum. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 1069–1073. 24. Urbach, A. R.; Pursell, C. J.; Spence, J. D. Supramolecular Chemistry: A Capstone Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84, 1785–1787. 25. Kovac, J. A Capstone Experience in Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 1991, 68, 907–910. 26. White, H. B.; Brown, S. D.; Johnston, M. V. Contemporary Moral Problems in Chemistry: Effect of Peer Presentations on Students’ Awareness of Science and Society Issues. J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82, 1570–1576. 27. The details of this assignment have been withheld from publication to maintain the confidentiality of the exam; however, we are happy to share additional information with fellow instructors (contact corresponding author). 28. Kabrhel, J. Debunking Pseudoscience: A Video Project To Promote Critical Thinking About Scientific Information in a General Chemistry Course. In Integrating Information Literacy into the Chemistry Curriculum; Flener Lovitt, C., Shuyler, K., Li, Y., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 1232; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2016; pp 265−278 and references therein. 29. Student Assessment of the Their Learning Gains. (accessed March 29, 2017). 30. (accessed March 29, 2017). 42

31. WebMD. (accessed March 29, 2017). 32. Wikipedia. (accessed March 29, 2017). 33. Kabrhel, J. Talking Out Loud: The Myth and Meaning of Chemical Free. 2014. (accessed March 29, 2017). 34. Kabrhel, J. Vaccines: A Discussion of Skepticism and Peer-Review. 2015. (accessed March 29, 2017). 35. Kabrhel, J. The Truth and Lies of GMOs. 2016. preview?id=T01862&video=274121 (accessed March 29, 2017). 36. Kabrhel, J. Cool to be Gluten-Free. 2017. preview?id=T01862&video=306328 (accessed March 29, 2017).


Chapter 4

The Right Place and the Right Time: Incorporating Ethics into the Undergraduate Biochemistry Curriculum Meagan K. Mann* Department of Chemistry, Austin Peay State University, 601 College Street, Clarksville, Tennessee 37044, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that covers the morality of our actions. For scientists, this means the ethics associated with our research design, reporting of data, and the care taken when working with experimentation on humans and animals. Many chemistry students receive the bulk of their scientific ethics training, whether intentionally or unintentionally, from their chemistry professors over the years spanning their education. While any college education provides students with a knowledge of plagiarism, cheating, and other areas of academic misconduct, the study of ethics in chemistry as it pertains to research misconduct and bioethics is largely left untouched, covered briefly, or sometimes taught but not acknowledged outright as an area of ethics. Presented here is a course design that includes learning objectives, assessments, and a variety of course topics and case studies used to bring a comprehensive ethics training component to undergraduate students taking biochemistry.

The Importance of Teaching Ethics to Chemistry Students I would like to start this chapter on the informal side by asking a basic question: if you were asked to rank which professions you trust the most, what would be at the top of your list? Would you pick medical professionals over lawyers? Scientists over politicians? If you are the average American, you would be raising your hand for medical professionals and scientists, which generally © 2017 American Chemical Society

rank near the top of such lists (1). Perhaps it is an obvious statement then, that educating our students on how to maintain the trust of the public through ethically executed research is just as important as the chemistry that we teach them. The American Chemical Society reiterates this point by stating in the ACS Guidelines and Evaulation Procedures for Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

“Ethics should be an intentional part of the instruction in a chemistry program. Students should be trained in the responsible treatment of data, proper citation of others’ work, and the standards related to plagiarism and the publication of scientific results. The curriculum should expose students to the role of chemistry in contemporary societal and global issues, including areas such as sustainability and green chemistry. As role models, faculty should exemplify responsible conduct in their teaching, research, and all other professional activities (2).”

Unfortunately for our students, taking elective philosophy courses on ethics tends to fall low on their priority list. While many schools offer courses in philosophy as humanities electives, many students choose appreciation courses in music, art, or theater instead. For the chemistry students who do take a philosophy course, they may have difficulty applying abstract philosophical concepts directly to their work as scientists. Whatever the case may be for each student, the end result is the same: the ethics education a chemistry student receives falls largely on the shoulders of their chemistry professors. It is our job to educate them on acceptable research practices as well as other areas of ethics critical to a comprehensive chemistry education. While most of our students understand that issues such as plagiarism on a paper, fabricating yields in lab, or cheating on exams is unacceptable, the broader implications of this level of dishonesty outside of the classroom may not be as clear to them. They know that proper waste disposal is important but may not recognize intentional and reckless waste disposal as an issue of ethics. A solid foundation in research regulations, governing bodies, and historical and current case studies are critical in preparing our students to be well-educated ethical scientists and medical professionals. This chapter focuses on the methodology, learning objectives, assessments, background, and case studies used to bring an average of eight hours of ethics training to undergraduate students in a two-semester biochemistry sequence. For reference, this work was done at Austin Peay State University, an ethnically and racially diverse regional state university in Tennessee. The biochemistry courses have anywhere from 10-30 students and are roughly split equally between biology and chemistry majors. The vast majority are interested in pursuing professional school. To take biochemistry at Austin Peay, students must pass (with a letter grade of C or better) two semesters of general chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry, precalculus, and one semester of general biology.


What is Ethics? Ethics is the branch of philosophy that covers the morality of our actions; essentially, it is the study of what is right and wrong. Of course, the world of philosophy stretches far from the reaches of science into many other fields such as political science, journalism, and military science. For the sake of this chapter, the study of “scientific” ethics will be divided into three categories: bioethics, academic ethics, and research ethics. An introduction to all three is essential for a comprehensive scientific ethics education.

Bioethics Bioethics covers the moral issues that arise with the use of biological samples: namely, animal and human research models, as well as certain other medical technologies using biological tissues. Students engaged in undergraduate research in this field may be familiar with the Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (IACUC) that oversees animal experimentation or the Internal Review Board (IRB) that oversees human research, but they may not understand the history of why we have and need such approval processes. Many students have no background in historic cases of human and animal experimentation that have shaped our current regulations and guidelines, nor the repercussions of what can happen if these regulations are disregarded. While it is true that many chemists do not use any living models, many of our chemistry students will land in careers that do use them. Providing this education for our students is essential for when they reach professional school or start working in a lab that uses these biological models.

Academic Ethics This is likely the area that American students know the most about as it is reinforced at some point in their primary and secondary education. Academic misconduct covers any type of plagiarism, fabrication of data, and manipulation of data, facts, or other information. While chemistry students know that plagiarism is unacceptable, they may not understand that adding mass to their lab products to indicate a better yield is just as unethical. Students learning to recognize and avoid these areas of misconduct sets the stage for increased scientific integrity throughout their careers.

Research Ethics Research ethics involves the best practices for doing safe, effective, and environmentally responsible research whenever possible. For chemists, this is generally taught as a component of our lab courses and involves education on proper waste disposal and optimizing an experimental design to use safer 47

chemicals (or fewer very toxic ones). It is important to have students learn the consequences of unsafe handling of chemicals, illegal methods of disposal, and proper chemical hygiene. As professional scientists, they will work towards reducing the quantity of dangerous reagents used and waste products generated. While teaching these best practices to some degree is common in undergraduate chemistry labs, few lab books approach it from an ethics perspective or label it as a form of misconduct when scientists intentionally disregard these practices.

Why Put Ethics in Biochemistry? The idea of bringing ethics discussions to undergraduate science students is not new. Undoubtedly, if you have surveyed enough textbooks you have seen special sections dedicated to a case study or other ethics topic. At the lower level, these discussions can help lend relevance to introductory non-major science courses aimed at humanities students. At the higher level, ethics discussions provide a critical component of the humanities to a chemistry student’s education. While useful, these small sections found in textbooks are far from replete and beg for additional information. A summary of representative literature available on this subject is presented in Table 1, including two possible textbooks aimed specifically at teaching ethics to science students. While a survey of the literature does show that there are instructors working to incorporate ethics into their classes, there is significantly less research available on ways to integrate more than a single ethics lesson into the standard undergraduate curriculum without designing an entirely new ethics course. While it is ideal to spread ethics training throughout a student’s education, a case can be made to incorporate a significant ethics component in the biochemistry courses. As biochemistry is typically a course for juniors or seniors, students in the course are likely committed to, and qualified for, a career where a proficiency in scientific ethics is necessary. One semester of biochemistry is a requirement for all students receiving ACS accreditation with their chemistry degree and is highly encouraged (or required) by many medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary schools. This means that biochemistry courses reach many, if not all, chemistry, biology, and pre-professional students towards the end of their undergraduate studies. Additionally, many relevant and interesting issues related to scientific misconduct are in the field of bioethics. These topics overlap with the biochemistry curriculum significantly when compared to the other branches of chemistry. Bringing these topics to biochemistry is thus a logical starting point for increasing student exposure to the study of ethics as it relates to the sciences.


Table 1. A Summary of Ethics Research in the Science Classroom Topic

Title Scientific Ethics (1991) (3)

Bringing a case study to lab

Scientific Ethics in Chemical Education (1996) (4)

Bringing a case study to lecture

Ethics in Science for Undergraduate Students (1999) (5)

An ethics course for science students

The Ethical Chemist: Professionalism and Ethics in Science (2004) (6)

A textbook on science ethics

Preparing the Senior or Graduating Student for Graduate Research (2005) (7)

An ethics course for science students

Who is Responsible for a Fraud: An Exercise Examining Research Misconduct and the Obligations of Authorship Through Case Studies (2005) (8)

Bringing a case study to lab

Education Resources for Guiding Discussions of Ethics in Science (2007) (9)

Instructor resources for ethics

Using “Ethics Labs” to Set a Framework for Ethical Discussion in an Undergraduate Science Course (2007) (10)

Bringing a case study to lab

Why and How to Teach Ethics in Chemical Education (2009) (11)

Instructor resources for ethics

Ethics, Chemistry, and Education for Sustainability (2011) (12)

The importance of teaching ethics

Ethics in Science: Ethical Misconduct in Scientific Research (2012) (13)

A textbook on science ethics

Course Design: Making Room in the Curriculum A burden on any instructor is finding enough time to cover all the material they want included in their syllabus. At some point a decision must be made to prioritize certain topics over others. Unlike other branches of chemistry, there is far less consistency in the topics taught in biochemistry and the methods through which they are delivered. This is likely due to three reasons: •

The interdisciplinary nature of biochemistry. Instructors often have primary training in fields that intersect with biochemistry but not biochemistry itself such as molecular and cell biology, biophysics, organic chemistry, chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology. Where biochemistry is taught. Because the content of biochemistry is so interdisciplinary, courses may be found in biochemistry, biology, or chemistry departments. Cross-listing biochemistry courses in multiple departments is also common. 49

The number of possible topics. There are many more topics included in a standard biochemistry text than can reasonably be included during a two-semester sequence, as well as a lot of topic variability between textbooks.

This inherent variability means that comparing any two courses will have a significant amount of deviation between topics covered. Some instructors may focus more on mechanistic and experimental biochemistry, while others focus on the areas that intersect more with the molecular biosciences. Some may cover fewer pathways in more detail, and others may cover more pathways in less detail. All are common and acceptable ways of teaching biochemistry, as is any method that falls between. It is largely dependent on the instructor’s background, the department the class is housed under, and the student body’s needs. In essence, a biochemistry instructor that prioritizes an education in ethics the same way they do glycolysis and amino acids can find room in their schedule to incorporate these ethics lessons by modifying their content in reasonable and acceptable ways common in the field. As shown in Table 1, there are various possibilities for giving chemistry students ethics training. Making an entirely new course for ethics has obvious advantages but requires more room to be made in an already-full curriculum, and, if listed as an elective, many students will not take it. Using existing lab courses to present case studies, assigned readings, and take-home assignments requires the sacrifice of at least one of the precious few days available for lab during a semester. This leaves spreading out the ethics discussions in the lecture course as the logical choice to fit in multiple case studies throughout the term. This seemed less intimidating than other methods and was the model used from 2009-2016 for this project. This allowed for a dedicated hour, four times a term, for lecture and discussions of history, regulations, and ethics case studies without straying away for weeks at a time from the biochemistry curriculum. Choosing which days to use for the discussions was simple; the lecture on the day preceding an exam always seems awkward from a teaching and learning standpoint. Generally, if new material covered that day will be on the exam, the students have very little time to work problems and study it in as much detail as they can the other exam topics. If new material is covered that is not going to be on the exam, students may not study it when it is fresh in their minds after a lecture, favoring the upcoming exam material, thus having more difficulty with the material when they do get to study it. The ethics lessons were designed to require no supplemental time outside of class and exam questions were based solely on the principles covered in the discussion. This allowed students to perform well on ethics-based questions derived from the previous day’s discussion without having to sacrifice any of their study time away from the core biochemistry content. With four hourly exams per semester as a model, each student, provided they were present in class that day, received 4 hours of in-person ethics training for each semester of biochemistry (students who were absent could ask for a supplementary reading of the case study covered to read before the exam).


Students were aware of the ethics days beforehand and were told that they would have an exam question related to the material discussed. Students were also asked to spend their time in the class participating in the open dialogue rather than taking formal notes so they would pay closer attention to the conversation around them. The discussion was open to stories, anecdotes, thoughts, religious beliefs, and any other facet of a student’s life that influenced their thoughts regarding morality. While more detailed information about case studies is provided in the “Course Content” section of this chapter, the following was the general outline for the ethics lectures:

Lecture 1: The first lecture was a standard digital presentation covering the basics of bioethics. This included the history of animal and human testing regulations (or the lack thereof), the modern regulations that we follow, including IACUC and IRB approval for research, and a brief overview of several notable historical case studies. The focus of the first lecture was to convey why we need to learn about ethics, and what types of ethical misconduct helped shape our current laws and regulations.

Lectures 2-8: The remaining seven lectures focused on a single case study per class. Roughly 5-10 minutes of background, delivered from the researcher’s perspective, would be delivered orally to describe what they were trying to accomplish through their research. This was followed by a short discussion about what, if any, the students knew about that specific area of research. Another 5-10 minutes was used to detail the ethical issues related to the case study. The remaining class time was dedicated to general discussion of the case, with “what do you think about…” style questions from the instructor to lead and guide as necessary. The goal of these lectures was to focus on who or what was harmed because of the research. Was there a better way to do the research? Was there any way to make it ethical? Was the knowledge obtained worth the cost? The case studies used varied depending on the year, and were chosen in response to current events and the collective classroom’s interests. Interestingly, the discussion would oftentimes end up in the same conclusions term after term when reusing case studies.

To add an anecdotal note, students responded positively to this model and the topic of ethics in general. Our “ethics days” were something they looked forward to learning, and I heard a few reports back from students who used their knowledge of ethics to help answer questions in professional school interviews. Furthermore, it allows for the inclusion of, and elaboration on, very specific information about a student’s ethics training in their letters of recommendation—this is something many professional schools like included in a letter.


Learning Objectives and Course Assessments The learning objectives were straightforward and are presented in Table 2. More time was spent focusing on bioethics and academic ethics than on research ethics, as research ethics tends to receive significant coverage in all lab courses. Additionally, bioethics tends to be more interesting to the predominantly preprofessional student population in the biochemistry courses at Austin Peay. The formative assessments (ungraded assessments used to help monitor student learning) utilized during the discussions were informal variations on commonly used classroom assessment techniques; these proved helpful in guiding the instructor-student dialogue during the class time. As students did not have reading materials beforehand, background knowledge probing, whereby the students were orally asked general questions about that day’s topic at the start of class, were useful in guiding the introductory materials presented. After the collective classroom background was established, focused listing, where the instructor would ask students to list what they knew about a specific topic related to that day’s case study, often showed students had very little preexisting knowledge regarding any of the bioethics topics and also indicated very little background in research ethics. Misconception/preconception checks, where students were asked leading questions to determine if they had misconceptions or preconceptions regarding the case studies, were done orally throughout class discussion to find areas where students were making false comparisons.

Table 2. Learning Objectives for Ethics in Biochemistry Students should be able to think critically about:

Students should have a working understanding of:

Use of humans in research

Belmont Report

Use of animals in research

Vulnerable populations

Vulnerable populations

Institutional Review Boards (IRB)

Social and scientific consequences of fabricated data

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC)

Historical and cultural differences in ethical behavior

Peer review process

Environmental consequences of poor chemical hygiene

Superfund Sites

As far as summative assessments (high-stakes graded materials used to evaluate what students gained from the lectures), standard short essay test questions regarding the content covered in the previous lecture were used. These were generally one question per exam. Each essay question was written to help evaluate the understanding of the learning objectives in Table 2. For example, students were given a fake research study and asked to explain what areas of 52

ethics needed to be considered for implementation of the research plan. As another example, students were asked about vulnerable populations in a study. A third example was using a case study we covered to discuss a certain area of ethics. These exam questions were worth 5-10% of each exam grade, and contributed roughly 7% to the final grade. A representative rubric assigned 50% of a question’s point value to being able to describe the ethical issue in general terms (something all students present for the lecture should be able to easily do), 25% was assigned for appropriate use of key words (or descriptions of concepts) that were introduced in the discussion, and the last 25% of the value assigned was for showing a deeper understanding of the ethical issue and its lasting societal implications. These were scaled so that a student who was present in class and who participated in discussion should be able to get 75% of the question’s point value, corresponding to an average grade in the class grading scale. A 100% value was generally given to students who understood the material, participated in the discussion, and who were able to draw conclusions and parallels from the case study covered to the question on the exam.

It is understandable that a chemistry professor may not be as comfortable writing and evaluating this type of exam question. It is not a common way of testing in chemistry courses, and it was, admittedly, more difficult for me to know how to grade these questions. This is where being in contact with a philosophy instructor is instrumental, as they can help guide you in developing questions and an adequate grading rubric. For the first few years of this work, I consulted frequently with Dr. Jordy Rocheleau, a philosophy professor at Austin Peay, for his expertise in developing and grading exam questions on ethics.

Course Content Listed here are some representative examples of background lessons and case studies presented to my classes. These topics could be covered alone during a full lecture block as I did, combined with each other to hit multiple topics per lecture to fit the instructor’s needs (as I did with the introductory bioethics lecture), or even covered briefly during downtime in lab. The way each topic is approached could easily vary by instructor preferences. The introductory lecture on bioethics history included the terms in Table 3. The following sections provide a brief background on certain case studies, with references available to allow for more in-depth study by both the instructor and student, as well as some of the discussion points I have used in the past to facilitate a two-way exchange with the students. It would be impossible to fit all known case studies into this chapter, but in the attached Appendix to this chapter you can find a summary of a few additional case studies in ethics that I have used throughout the years. I realize websites often change: rest assured, an internet search of those cases is generally sufficient to find ample trust-worthy background. 53

Table 3. Bioethics Terminology Term



Operating on a living animal or human


Dismembering a deceased biological specimen


Determining the cause of death in a human


Determining the cause of death in an animal

Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (IACUC)

Reviews research to be done on animal subjects

Internal Review Board (IRB)

Reviews research to be done on human subjects

Bioethics History: Animal Experimentation The written history of animal vivisection begins as far back as the time of Aristotle in ancient Greece (14). Ibn Zuhr, a twelfth century physician, practiced and perfected surgical procedures on animals before bringing those surgeries to humans (15). The Age of Enlightenment led to more vivisection as more people were literate and doing scientific research; this is largely when debates on vivisection ethics began (14). Early vivisection would be widely considered horrific by modern standards: vertebrate animals would be immobilized by being strapped to a table and cut into with no anesthetic, as there was none available at the time. The animals would generally die a painful death being tortured under the knife. There were several thoughts about the ethics of vivisection during the 1700’s that ran from one extreme of advocacy to the other extreme of opposition. Common thoughts from advocates at the time included (15, 16): • •

Animals could not feel pain because they had no soul; therefore, testing on them was fine. Animals could feel pain, but researchers felt the information acquired from these studies was valuable enough to weigh the risk to the animals with the benefit to humanity.

Surprisingly, some of the early opponents were not particularly concerned with animal welfare but rather the validity of data acquired from animals. Their thoughts included (15): • •

Animals under duress would have altered physiology that would not be reliably transferrable to human physiology. Humans were a special organism different than all others; thus, knowledge derived from research on other animals could not be transferred to humans.


We now know that vertebrate animals can feel pain, that they often prove a good model for human physiology, and that a very stressed animal does have differences in some aspects of their physiology but not in others. Of course, it was through the work of early vivisection that we know this information.

Discussion Points Over time, it became hard to deny a few truths. 1) The type of testing being done on animals was inhumane, and 2) vivisection was instrumental in providing meaningful data that could advance the understanding of human physiology. This led to a simple conclusion which parallels the current Western beliefs: animal research is incredibly useful, but we need to do it in a way that minimizes the suffering of animals. This enlightenment coincided with the time that anesthetics became commonplace, the mid-1800’s, giving an obvious way to continue doing vivisection in a way that reduced animal suffering and was generally considered more humane than in previous generations. Bioethics History: Regulations on Animals in the Research Lab Generally, as public support grows for animal welfare, so does the push for government oversight into vivisection. The first known law passed on animal welfare was in the United Kingdom in 1822 with the “Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle”. This act stated that if any person “shall wantonly and cruelly beat, abuse, or ill-treat any horse, mare, gelding, mule, ass, ox, cow, heifer, steer, sheep, or other cattle” they would be imposed a fine (16). Shortly after, in 1824, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded and in the latter part of the 19th century, anti-vivisection societies organized to oppose vivisection in the UK (15). The UK is still considered one of the leaders in animal welfare protection laws and pushes for the “3Rs”: Reduce the number of animals used in testing, Refine experiments that use them to reduce their suffering, and Replace animal models when possible. In the US, the history of animal welfare laws started much later with the passing of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) in 1966. Enforced by the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA), the AWA has seen significant revisions in 1970, 1976, 1985, 1990, 2002, 2007, and 2008 (17). The 1985 revision included language to mandate an Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee, which must include at least three people, one of which must be a veterinarian, to act as an advocate to the animals and encourage finding alternatives to animal models for the research. The AWA covers issues of handling, housing, space, feeding, sanitation, veterinary care, and handling of animals in transit.

Discussion Points A study of the AWA and its amendments will bring to light a few issues regarding the consistency of the law as it pertains to all animals (18): The 1970 55

amendment included a definition for animals that they must be warm-blooded but excluded all farm animals. While there are policies in place for farm animals, they are much more relaxed than those for animals used for research purposes. The 2002 revision redefined “animal” to exclude mice, rats, and birds bred for laboratory work (95% of all animals used in labs). This still stands as a significant issue for vivisection opponents. Since the AWA only covers warm-blooded vertebrates, fish, reptiles, and amphibians are left completely unprotected. In 2005, the USDA released a regional report regarding hundreds of violations to the AWA with very few cases of legal action taken against the offending researchers/institutions (19). This indicates that there are still plenty of experiments being done on animals in the US that the public at large would deem as unethical from an animal rights perspective, with apparently very little oversight into the enforcement of the laws in place to protect those animals. Bioethics History: Human Experimentation While in the 21st century the term vivisection is generally used to refer to animal experimentation, there is a written history of human vivisection that dates from ancient Greece to modern day reports out of North Korea. In ancient Greece, Herophilus and Erasistratus were both active in dissecting people but were also reported to have done vivisection on criminals who had been condemned (20). Generally these cases of human vivisection happen when one group of people has power over others: the disenfranchised people make for easy targets, and with few rights, they can be exploited experimentally with a socially accepted justification. Most students are familiar with the history of human experimentation done on the Jews in Nazi Germany, but are often unfamiliar with the physician, Josef Mengele, who was responsible for the infamous atrocities in Auschwitz. Fewer students are familiar with Unit 731; the department of Japanese doctors during the Second Sino-Japanese war who were responsible for, arguably, worse atrocities than the Nazis. Unit 731 would actively cut into living people, cut off body parts, submerge them in ice hypothermia studies, and justified this as the subjects were Chinese, not Japanese (21). It has been reported from people who have escaped the camps in North Korea that prisoners are being experimented on there as well. While there is less physical evidence of this happening, it is an important point to note that large-scale human vivisection is likely still happening in 2017 (22).

Discussion Points Vulnerable populations are specific demographics that have historically been exploited during human vivisection. The Greeks, Nazis, Japanese, and (likely) North Koreans did their experiments on imprisoned people such as criminals, prisoners of war, and political prisoners. Other populations that are considered atrisk would include soldiers, pregnant women, fetuses, children, the impoverished, the uneducated, the terminally ill, refugees, ethnic or religious minorities, or the physically or mentally handicapped. A great point to consider is why these groups would be considered at-risk for exploitation. 56

Bioethics History: Regulations on Human Research Subjects After the concentration camps were liberated during World War II, it became apparent that there needed to be worldwide rules in place to prevent similar atrocities. The first set of ethical human research regulations came during the Nuremberg Trials. The Nuremberg Code (1947) was a list of 10 ethics principles that were intended to guide any research done with humans to ensure it was done ethically (23). Around that same time, the Declaration of Geneva (1948) from the World Medical Association updated the Hippocratic Oath. The Declaration of Helsinki (1964) from the World Medical Association was the first attempt from the worldwide medical community to codify ethics principles regarding human research and built upon the Declaration of Geneva and the Nuremburg Code. It relaxed some of the rules in the Nuremburg Code as well as included language for scientists who were not physicians doing research. These codes, while not legally binding in many countries, are the basis for the Belmont Report (1978). The Belmont Report is the list of three federal regulations regarding the ethical use of human test subjects in the United States. The three tenants of the Belmont Report state (24): 1) Respect for persons: Individuals must be able to give informed consent, must not be lied to or coerced into an experiment by the researcher, and can leave the experiment at any time for any reason. 2) Beneficence: Researchers must do no harm. If anything in a study indicates the subjects will be harmed, the study must stop. No research can be done that will inherently harm the subjects. 3) Justice: Care must be taken to not exploit vulnerable populations, and a fair selection process must be used in determining who will participate in an experiment. The Belmont Report is the basis for the modern Institutional Review Board used to oversee experiments involving human subjects in the United States.

Discussion Points While the rules of the Belmont Report seem obvious, it is important to have students realize that we have these principles in place because there were researchers who were being exploitative and were not acting in the best interest of their subjects. After studying the different ethics codes for human experimentation, it is worthwhile to continue a discussion about vulnerable populations, and giving example scenarios for the type of research that can be done that is classified as “human experimentation.” Most students do not know that even doing surveys in class as part of a research project constitute human experimentation and need IRB approval, and have never considered whether recruiting research subjects for higher risk experiments exclusively from an unemployment office is ethical. Bioethics Case Study: Tuskegee Syphilis Study (25) In 1932 a group of 600 poor, male, black sharecroppers were recruited to participate in a study on syphilis. The name of the study was “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” and was intended to gain data needed 57

to justify the enforcement of syphilis treatment programs for African Americans. Important to this case study is the fact that long term health effects of untreated syphilis were not well understood, and thus the research had a noble goal in helping better understand the progression of syphilis. Unfortunately, the men recruited were told that they were receiving free medical care to treat “bad blood”, when in reality they were being observed and given no treatment for syphilis. In 1945, penicillin was accepted as the treatment for syphilis, but the men in the study were still not given antibiotic treatment. Their disease was allowed to progress with no medical intervention with the full understanding that they could spread it to others. Finally, in 1972, 40 years after the study started and 27 years after penicillin, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was ended after Peter Buxtun came forward to the public about the study with serious concerns about its ethics. His whistle blowing effectively ended the study and directly led to the writing of the Belmont Report in 1978.

Discussion Points In the 40 years of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, men belonging to a vulnerable population were lied to, misled by medical researchers, and experimented on without any sense of informed consent. Of that 40 years, 27 of them included the intentional withholding of life-saving medication with the full intent of following the progression of the disease in the men until they died. At the beginning of the study, the Nuremburg Trials had not yet happened, thus the Nuremburg Code did not exist. This is an interesting case study in reminding us that just because something is legal does not make it ethical. An important question to ask is: Are the principles in the Belmont Report sufficient from keeping this from happening again, and is it possible that it could happen with less scrupulous researchers in other countries?

Bioethics Case Study: Guatemala STD Study (26) In 1946 a group of American researchers supported with federal funds carried out a series of experiments on 1,500 prisoners, sex workers, mental health patients, and soldiers in Guatemala. The study, the “1946-1948 U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Inoculation Study”, had a worthwhile goal: to find new ways to prevent STDs like gonorrhea and syphilis. Unfortunately, the experimental design involved infecting sex workers with these STDs and then having them have unprotected sex with the recruited men. When the researchers observed that very few men contracted the diseases, they were infected through inoculating directly into the urethra, exposing skin to infection, or in some cases, directly injecting the infection into the men under their skin or into their spinal cord. The study ended after two years due to the increased use of penicillin to treat these infections, making prevention less of a concern than in pre-antibiotic years. 58

Discussion Points Like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the men and women in the chosen population were members of highly vulnerable populations so a similar discussion regarding vulnerable populations is in order. The research was never published and was not actually “discovered” until many years later when the ethics of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was under review, but it is important to note that this was also done prior to the Nuremburg Code. None of the subjects gave informed consent, and there was clear deception in place that prevented the subjects from knowing what was happening. It is not clear in the historical records if all (or even some) subjects were eventually given penicillin, which was very expensive at the time, but it is believed that not all patients were given treatment for the infections they incurred during the study. Also worth noting is that the study only ended because of the discovery of penicillin, not because the researchers thought what they were doing was wrong. In essence, American researchers funded with US federal monies, gave unsuspecting Guatemalans highly contagious, deadly infections that they likely did not have the money or resources to treat after the study ended, and were likely not given treatment by the people responsible for their disease.

Bioethics Case Study: Henrietta Lacks and HeLa Cells (27) Along with the polio vaccine, research in cancer, HIV/AIDS, radiation poisoning, biochemistry, toxicology, genetics, drug testing, in vitro fertilization technology, and cloning all have something in common: a mutant cell line found in the 1950’s called HeLa cells were used for a significant component of the research. In fact, to the date of this writing, HeLa cells are featured in close to 100,000 published research studies on PubMed, have been cultured to the tune of over 50,000,000 metric tons, and have been instrumental in the research that has led to five Nobel Prizes. These mutant cells were a major medical breakthrough, as normal cells cannot be used in cell culture. If provided the necessary nutrients, normal, healthy cells will grow in a petri dish until they bump into each other, creating a single continuous layer of cells (density-dependent inhibition of cell division). These cells have a limited number of replication cycles before they die, normally within a few days. These attributes make culturing typical cells impossible and is where HeLa cells, the first “immortal cell line”, become useful: they do not die. They will continue replicating regardless of cell density and cell age, essentially until they run out of nutrients. They double at a rate much higher than typical cells and are so prolific that they can lead to major contamination issues of other cell cultures in a lab. There are quite a few immortal cell lines now that are commonly worked with in research labs, including 32 derivatives of the original HeLa line. Without much other information, it would be very hard to see HeLa cells as anything other than a medical marvel that have significantly benefited society. In fact, until you hear the term “human negroid cervical carcinoma”, you may not even realize they came from a human at all. 59

Henrietta Lacks was a poor, black, illiterate woman who grew up in a racially segregated America. She spent her life working tobacco fields and was married to her first cousin. In 1951 at the age of 31, Henrietta travelled to Johns Hopkins Hospital for abdominal pain; at the time, Johns Hopkins was the only hospital around her that would even see black patients. She was admitted to the “free ward for colored women” and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. At the time of admission, she signed a form stating, “I hereby give consent to the staff of the Johns Hopkins Hospital to perform any operative procedures and under any anesthetic, either local or general, that they may deem necessary in the proper surgical care and treatment of ___.” During her treatment, Henrietta had biopsies taken from her for both the pathology of her disease and for research. At the time, a Johns Hopkins physician named Dr. George Otto Gey was trying to find cancer cells that would grow in culture. Cancer cells lack the signals and triggers that tell them to stop growing, making them an obvious choice for creating an immortal cell line. Henrietta’s cells, HeLa cells, worked wonderfully. They would double at a rate of once every 48 hours and would grow, essentially uncontrolled, in culture. Henrietta died not too long after her cervical cells started being shipped all over the world to research labs.

Discussion Points Henrietta was illiterate and was therefore unable to read the forms she signed at Johns Hopkins. She came to the minority ward of a hospital for treatment and was told she had to sign those forms for that treatment. While George Gey never received money from his HeLa cell line (he gave them away, all over the world without a second thought), they quickly became a goldmine for many companies, even today. Henrietta’s family did not know about HeLa cells for over 20 years after her death, and in 1976 a group of researchers tracked them down for additional genetic testing. The family was under the mistaken impression (perhaps through a misunderstanding between them and the researchers) that they were being tested for the disease that killed Henrietta, when in reality they were research subjects, not patients, being used in the same way Henrietta was. There are obvious issues here of informed consent and the fact that she was a part of a vulnerable population. The fact that her genetic material has made massive amounts of money for people other than her family, who are still poor and have no health insurance, is an interesting ethics point to ponder with a class. Her children have been outspoken with very negative feelings about what they see as unethical and exploitative research done on their mother without her knowledge or consent. Is there any sort of reparation that would make this okay? Who would be responsible for it? Johns Hopkins where the procedure was done did not capitalize on her cells, nor did the scientist that first cultured them. The companies that capitalized on them never even met her. In 2013 a research group 60

published the genome of HeLa cells without considering the issue of privacy of her living relatives who share those genes. Since that time, the NIH has given some level of control to the family over who can see and use the genome; does that adequately protect her living descendants? Further information on this case study includes the cited book at the top of this section, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), as well as an HBO film (2017) of the same title. Academic Ethics Case Study: The Wakefield Debacle (28) A topic that many students have some familiarity with is that of the ongoing controversy of the safety of vaccines. They often do not know about the research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield. In 1998 Wakefield published a research article in The Lancet drawing a link between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine (MMR) and autism spectrum disorder. His results were speculative, his research design faulty, and his sample size far too small for statistically significant results (n=12). That said, his paper received widespread publicity, and the rates of vaccines in young children continue to drop. Numerous studies have been done that refute the Wakefield paper, and in 2004, 10 of the 12 authors involved in the original paper put a partial retraction on the interpretation of results in the paper to show no causal link between MMR and autism. In 2010, the entire paper was retracted as an investigation by The Lancet showed that there were significant flaws in the study and some serious ethical violations on the part of the researchers who published it. That said, there are still significant numbers of parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children. Measles and mumps have seen a resurgence in the past few years as has whooping cough and other easily preventable, deadly infections.

Discussion Points One important point to note is that Andrew Wakefield failed to disclose that his research was funded by lawyers who represented parents involved in suing vaccine makers. His research involved intentional scientific misrepresentation of data to push inaccurate results, and it is likely that this fraud was for undisclosed financial gain. Additionally, there were other bioethics violations in this case, as the children’s parents used in the study were not given the necessary information for informed consent. While a single case study could be made about the bioethics issues of the Wakefield case, it is a fantastic example of the far-reaching implications of dishonest research reporting. While there is no link known to any issue with autism and vaccines, the Wakefield paper was enough to put a question into the thoughts of the public on whether vaccination of their child was worth the risk. If they are from the United States, parents of small children right now have never lived in an area where measles is a deadly childhood disease and may underestimate the severity of it. The Center for Disease Control shows over 600 measles diagnoses in the United States in 2014, the highest number of measles cases since 1994. The mortality from measles is usually around one or two from 1000 reported cases, making this a dangerous and preventable childhood infection (29). 61

Academic Ethics Case Study: Guilty by Association (30) Dr. Elizabeth Goodwin was a tenured professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) campus. In 2005, a graduate student named Chantal Ly came to Goodwin with concerns about her research: it seemed she had hit a significant roadblock in her progress and was unable to replicate previous data generated from the lab. Goodwin decided to give Ly three pages from a recent NIH grant proposal to look over with the understanding that if she was interested, she could join another graduate student, Garett Padilla, on the project. At first glance, Ly found a significant error in the grant proposal; results reported as unpublished had been published a few years earlier by the lab. When she brought this to the attention of Padilla, he found a slew of other inaccuracies in the grant proposal: 1) there was a reference to a study that had never been done, 2) several figures had been visibly manipulated, 3) at least two images were presented as unpublished but were published, and were from different experiments than were indicated in the proposal; all from only three pages. When Padilla approached Goodwin on the topic, she repeatedly said that she messed up and then blamed the issue on a computer file mix-up. Unfortunately, a single computer file mix-up did not explain the numerous issues found in the grant proposal, and eventually, Padilla called a meeting with the seven members of the lab to discuss the findings of the grant proposal written by Goodwin. It was decided over multiple meetings with the graduate students that Padilla and Ly would take their findings and concerns to the department chair. The chair quickly referred the issue to the university administration for an informal investigation, which led to a formal investigation of academic misconduct. The formal investigation indicated that there was evidence of deliberate falsification in three of her grant applications with $1.8 million in federal funds and led to questions regarding several published articles that had come out of the Goodwin lab in previous years.

Discussion Points The outcome of this case study was typical for such misconduct: Elizabeth Goodwin was forced to resign from her position, and her students were left suffering the consequences. Of her six graduate students, only two stayed at UW-Madison to finish their degree. One transferred schools to start all over in a new doctoral program, one abandoned their studies to become a lab technician, and two others abandoned science entirely. These students suffered the most significant consequences of Goodwin’s misconduct. An important point to make with students here is that there are actual legal ramifications for fabricating data. While the journal articles in question were shown to be valid and not retracted, two funded grant proposals were found to be fraudulent. She was barred from getting any other federal funding for three years, and was ordered to pay $50,000 back to the government and another $50,000 to UW-Madison, and she was eventually sentenced to two years of probation for the offense (31). Interestingly, when asked what my students would do in a similar situation, there is a lot of 62

discussion on whether they would blow the whistle. Quite a few have said they would not, hoping to preserve their own careers by staying complacent in the misconduct. Others realize, like the Goodwin lab did, that eventually this type of misconduct will be discovered, and anyone associated with the unethical scientist could be viewed by the scientific community as guilty by association. Academic Ethics Case Study: Cultural Differences in Academic Ethics (32) Perhaps not a case study in the traditional sense, the news article, “Plagiarism Plague Hinders China’s Scientific Ambition” was published by NPR in 2011 and does a great job of detailing the cultural differences in accepted academic conduct between China and the United States. The article focuses on the work of Helen Zhang, a journal director for a Chinese publication called the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science, as she tries to push Chinese scientists into accepting international publication standards (largely based on current Western practices). The Journal of Zhejiang University-Science was the first in China to use text analysis software to spot plagiarism in submissions. Her first few years were discouraging as she found upwards of over 30% of the submissions had unacceptable levels of copying and plagiarism (only counting life science and computer science, the figure rose to 40%). While this level of plagiarism would be considered unethical in Western journals, it is often commonplace in Chinese journals. Zhang attributes a large part of the issue to cultural factors in the education system in China. In China, rote memorization and repetition of an instructor’s work is considered a good way of learning and is generally encouraged. Confucian ideas of respecting those who provide knowledge as well as not challenging or criticizing are the norm. This inherently leads to copying of work, which at that point is considered acceptable—Confucian education shows that knowledge is knowledge and that no single individual “owns” that knowledge. While Chinese standards could easily stay Chinese standards, the problem lies with the fact that scientists exist largely outside of the bubble of their nationality, but on a global stage of other scientists. Zhang and many others are pushing for Chinese academics to accept more internationally accepted Western standards for publications.

Discussion Points It is important that care be taken in this topic to avoid overt condemnation of an entire culture, but the fact is, cultural differences in how scientists view ethics is a very important subject that needs to be addressed in our increasingly global society. Is there a right and wrong when it comes to an entire culture’s standards? Are they wrong, or just different? Perhaps it is a little bit of both? Another topic brought forth in the article is that of money. Chinese academics receive extra financial compensation depending on how much they publish, and in such scenarios, the numbers are all that matter, not the originality of the research. This means that many Chinese scientists have a history of submitting the same research to multiple journals for publication, even though that is widely considered 63

unethical internationally. One example of this is from the international journal Acta Crystallographica Section E. The article highlighted that between 2009 and 2011, 120 papers had to be retracted (70 of those were from Jinggangshan University) due to plagiarism. This is not just an issue of the educational system in China: thousands of Chinese students come to the United States to study in our colleges and universities (33). How does this background impact their academic success? This proved to be an interesting point of discussion that international students, in particular, were very interested in discussing.

Research Ethics Case Study: A Background in Superfund Sites In 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was passed, which allowed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate areas with significant toxic waste issues, and to put money towards the long-term cleanup of those areas. These “superfund sites” are put on a National Priorities List, which currently numbers nearly 1,400 locations across all states and US territories (34). These locations are considered so hazardous to human health that immediate removal of people from the area is often recommended, leaving at the least a mandate to not eat local fish, and at worst, leaving behind an entire ghost town. A great example of this is Pitcher, OK, which has been contaminated with lead over decades of local mining. The town has been largely evacuated, with only a handful of residents intentionally remaining after a federal buyout helped relocate the majority. There is a wonderful documentary, “Tar Creek”, about the environmental issues in Pitcher, the federal response, the buyout, and the long-term implications that I show sections of in class. As most students do not live in these areas, they are largely unaware that they exist and are generally horrified to know that 1,400 of these places exist all around us.

Discussion Points While many superfund sites are the result of non-chemists, there are quite a few of them that are. The EPA has only existed since 1970; before that, there were very few regulations regarding pollutants entering the environment. In fact, it wasn’t until the public outcry that resulted from Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 that the public was even concerned with environmental pollutants at all. Many consider Silent Spring to be the spark that ignited the environmental movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which resulted directly to the formation of the EPA. Many of the superfund sites stand as a testament to the possible outcome from reckless waste disposal at the hands of people working with industrial-scale toxic chemicals. A few examples can be found in Table 4. While not all superfund sites are directly related to the work of chemists, it is important for us as instructors to make our students aware of these areas and to encourage them to always be ethical in their waste disposal and experimental design efforts and to always try to do chemistry with the environment and disposal of chemicals in mind. Something 64

as simple as washing chromium down the sink or evaporating certain chemicals through a hood can have significant implications to our environment and health.

Table 4. Selected Superfund Sites on the National Priorities List (35) Location


Responsible Party

Fernald, OH

US DOE Feed Materials Production Center

Release of dust emissions containing radioactive uranium from 1951-1989 during cold-war ammunition manufacturing

Toone, TN

Velsicol Chemical Corp.

Large-scale chemical contamination from 1964-1973 of surface and ground water, soil, and air from the plant’s landfill

La Salle, IL

Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Co.

From 1858-1978 the smelting and rolling of zinc ore led to major heavy metal contamination of cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc

Ashland, MA

Nyanza Chemical Inc.

A chemical waste landfill that contaminated soil and groundwater with acids, organics, and mercury from 1917-1978

Denver, CO

Chemical Sales Co.

Poor waste disposal practices lead to groundwater contamination with volatile organic chemicals from 1976-1991

Conclusions To my students, much of our discussions revolve around what likely seems ancient history, sometimes done in faraway lands. The reality is that the United States has an extensive history of intentionally exposing people to diseases, radiation, and chemicals, all without their consent. We have done permanent damage to the lives and health of prisoners, soldiers, slaves, pregnant women, children, and mentally handicapped people, all through unethical human experimentation (see the attached Appendix for further examples). We have lied about research findings, fabricated results, and done unethical things to get the research results we want and to secure funding that our research does not warrant. We have intentionally thrown toxic waste into our rivers, soil, and sky, contaminating our communities, sometimes irreparably. We have covered up things we should not have done, hoping nobody will find out. We, as a community of scientists, are not “above” practicing poor scientific ethics; this has unfortunately been shown repeatedly. What is important is that, individually, we can and should push ourselves to the highest level of ethics, pursuing our research interests with utmost care, honesty, and integrity. 65

This chapter has covered the importance of why ethics needs to be taught to undergraduate students, and provides a model for doing so in a way that pushes for an interactive, continuing education in the demographic of students that will most likely need that education. Hopefully, this chapter can serve as a model for other institutions to help prepare future scientists for fully preparing their students for careers in science and medicine. There are many more ethical scientists than there are unethical ones, and if we continue to teach our students to be ethical in their work, our community will continue to be society’s truth-bearers, holders of knowledge, and people that the general population can trust to work in the best interests of mankind.

Appendix: Additional Case Studies Testing Medical Procedures on Slaves (36) In the mid-1800’s a doctor named J. Marion Sims performed vivisection of a gynecologic nature on about 10 slaves without anesthesia. He developed a surgery still used for correcting fistulas in developing countries. Studying Malaria on Prisoners (37) In the 1940’s a group of researchers infected around 500 inmates with malaria at the Stateville Penitentiary in Stateville, IL. The disease was studied as well as experimental medications. Psychologically Abusing Orphans To Make Them Stutter (38) In 1939, Dr. Wendell Johnson used extreme psychological abuse to show children who were tortured in this way could develop a speech stutter. A speech pathologist, Johnson used children in a local orphanage to do his experiments. The study became nicknamed the “Monster Study”. His research showed that, indeed, you could give children a lifelong speech impediment through extreme emotional stress. Giving Radioactive Iron to Pregnant Woman (39) In the 1940’s, researchers at Vanderbilt University gave over 800 pregnant women “vitamin drinks”. These women were poor, and came to the clinic for free prenatal care. The effects of radiation exposure were not well understood at the time, but the result was a higher rate of the women and their children were diagnosed with cancer later in their lives. Developing the Smallpox Vaccine on Children (40) Edward Jenner was a physician in the late 18th century who is responsible for saving countless lives through the invention of the smallpox vaccine. Indeed, this 66

is a wonderful feat of science, which has been perpetuated into many vaccines for countless diseases. Jenner’s main research subject was the 8-year old son of his gardener. After exposing the young boy to cowpox lesions, he deliberately infected the boy with smallpox to see if he would acquire the deadly disease. Fortunately, he did not. Testing on Children in Mental Institutions (41) In the mid-1900’s, children who had been committed to the Sonoma State Hospital for being mentally handicapped were given extremely painful treatments involving pushing air into their spines. This research had no direct medical benefit for the children and was done for basic research to learn about cerebral palsy. There were at least 1,400 patients of the hospital who died while there, and any child with cerebral palsy had their brain removed and dissected without parental consent. Data Manipulation Using Photo Editing in Nano Letters (42) In 2013 a publication in Nano Letters was full of fabricated images of “chopstick nanorods”. These images included obvious doctored photos of multiple images pasted together. In 2015 the paper was retracted due to the obvious misconduct. Self-Plagiarism from the Elite (43) In 2012 Ronald Breslow was found to have plagiarized whole sections of one paper with paragraphs from previously published papers. What makes this story interesting is that Breslow is considered a very well-known and respected chemist. He was the president of the American Chemical Society at one point, works at the prestigious Columbia University, and is the recipient of several notable awards such as the National Medal of Science and the Priestly Medal. A Multifaceted Case Study Spanning Academic, Research, and Bioethics (44) In 2005 Hwang Woo-Suk received wide-spread fame in South Korea after he published success in making human stem cell lines. It was found a short time after that he fabricated much of his data. Further investigation showed that he used women’s eggs that he purchased on the black market or received from his female graduate students. He also misled the egg donors regarding the fate of their eggs, and he was charged with embezzling his research grants.


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Chapter 5

Let the Students Do the Talking Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz,*,1 Larry Dukerich,1 and Erica Posthuma-Adams2 1American

Modeling Teachers Association, 5808 13th Avenue, Sacramento, California 95820, United States 2University High School of Indiana, 2825 W 116th Street, Carmel, Indiana 46032, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Modeling Instruction has been practiced in science and mathematics classrooms across the US and around the world for over 30 years. Concept inventory scores from over 30,000 students confirm that this approach is one of the most successful science education reforms in the last 50 years. Designed to leverage what cognitive science has uncovered about how we think, Modeling Instruction guides students to construct and apply a handful of basic conceptual models that form the content core of chemistry. Students work together in groups of three or four to accomplish this by engaging in carefully chosen laboratory activities. Written work is displayed on large student whiteboards, with problem representations and solutions collaboratively constructed and then shared and interpreted in discussion with the entire class. Managing student discourse that surrounds the preparation and sharing of whiteboarded representations requires skill on the part of the teacher. This chapter will explore what teachers can do to optimize the way students interact using whiteboarded representations and classroom discourse as tools for thinking with and thinking about the fundamental conceptual models of chemistry.

© 2017 American Chemical Society

Introduction There is nothing more humbling for a chemistry teacher than to review the results of students’ performance on an end-of-term concept inventory. Despite our best efforts, we see indisputable evidence that students retain many of the naïve beliefs they possessed when they entered our course. A careful item analysis might uncover the misconceptions at the root of these beliefs, thus providing the reflective practitioner an opportunity to modify instruction so as to explicitly confront them next time around but for students who have just completed the course, it’s too late to undo the problem. In all probability, it will take us years of slowly improving concept inventory results before we can hit upon the right moment and the right way to confront particularly stubborn misconceptions. To do this well, we need a way to detect when these misconceptions are activated and how they interact with what we are trying to teach. The best way to know precisely when this is happening is to hear it from students’ very own lips, but this can be difficult in a typical classroom or lecture learning environment. Interactive lecture/discussions, while providing opportunities for students to ask or answer questions, can be a daunting environment for students. Only a handful of students typically have the courage to speak up. Even teachers who routinely solicit student feedback using “clicker questions,” only see the aggregate results of responses to the multiple choice questions they pose (1). They cannot know what an individual was thinking that led to the selection one answer over another. Students do not enter our classrooms as tabula rasa. New learning is overlaid upon a great deal of pre-existing ‘organized’ knowledge (2, 3). And in addition to common sense chemistry concepts, students also bring over a decade of motivations, goals and cultural expectations—about the meanings of the words as they are used in scientific contexts, about why they need to learn chemistry, about what counts as knowing chemistry, about the value of schooling and how “good students” play “the school game (3, 4).” How can we remodel our classrooms into learning environments where students are actively engaged in making sense of what they observe and are motivated to share their thinking aloud? In this chapter we will describe the Modeling Method of Instruction (5–8) an approach to teaching chemistry that redesigns the learning environment to actively engage students in making sense of observable physical phenomena in collaboration with their peers. This method provides the teacher with frequent opportunities to hear how students are thinking as they construct, refine, and apply the fundamental conceptual models that form the content core of chemistry.

A Brief History of the Modeling Instruction In 1983, Malcolm Wells, an award-winning veteran high school physics teacher began a PhD program in physics education research under the directon of David Hestenes. Hestenes and his student, Ibrahim Halloun had been refining a model-based approach to teaching freshman physics. They created a multiple 72

choice survey to probe student misconceptions about motion and forces (9). Wells was certain his honors physics students would perform well on it. He administered it at the end of school year and was shocked at how poorly his students did post-instruction on this seemingly simple measure of student beliefs. After interviewing his students to explore the nature of their misconceptions, Wells redesigned the mechanics portion of his physics course, organizing the content around the fundamental conceptual models identified by Hestenes (6, 10). Adding the structuring framework of models to his existing instructional design of learning cycles (11, 12), Wells developed the Modeling Cycle: 1) model development, consisting of description, formulation, ramification and validation and 2) model deployment, in which the model developed in phase 1 is applied to a variety of novel physical situations (7). He tested his new model-centered collaborative inquiry approach the following year and the results were dramatic. Students’ post-test scores on the concept inventory increased by more than a standard deviation. When his results were shared with a National Science Foundation (NSF) program officer at a conference the following summer, Wells and Hestenes were encouraged to apply for funding to develop and disseminate this new approach to physics instruction. Thus began a program of research and teacher professional development supported by 16 years of continuous NSF funding. Wells passed away in 1993 but Hestenes and his colleagues carried on the work that Wells began, expanding into other areas of physics and then applying the instructional model to teaching and learning chemistry, biology and middle school science.

The Modeling Method The Modeling Method of Instruction, or Modeling Instruction (MI) as it is now called, provides an instructional framework that mimics how scientists “do science.” Students use experimental observations and evidence to construct and refine conceptual models of physical phenomena. Then they apply their models in different situations to answer questions or make predictions, and they probe the boundaries of their models to find out where it breaks down—where a better model is needed to explain what they observe. How does someone learn to play a video game? By playing it, right? Typically one does not sit down and read the manual before firing up the computer and giving it a try. And good videogames are designed to be learned by playing the game (13). By contrast, in traditional chemistry classrooms, students learn the rules of ‘the game of chemistry,’ via lecture and problem solving. Then (perhaps) they might get to play the chemistry game—in the laboratory. MI, like a well-designed videogame, turns the traditional approach upside down. Similar to a research laboratory, the Modeling classroom is a collaborative working/learning environment. Students work together as a class (guided by the teacher with carefully chosen demonstrations) to determine the phenomenon they need to investigate. Then they break up into smaller teams—lab groups of three or four students each. They design an experimental procedure, collect and analyze data and represent their findings on whiteboards. Then they reconvene as a whole 73

class to share and discuss their results—illustrated on their whiteboards—and to engage in a collective sense-making conversation. At the end of this “model construction” activity, everyone in the class shares the same conceptual model of the phenomenon they investigated. In a sequence of follow-up tasks students continue to work together in this way, toggling between small group work and whole group whiteboard-mediated sense-making, to refine and apply their model in a variety of situations—driving toward model failure, which will provide them with the seeds of a better, more finely tuned model. MI for Chemistry Energized by 16 years of NSF support, MI in Physics enjoyed great popularity among high school physics teachers nationwide beginning in 1990. By the early 2000’s over 100 high school physics Modeling teachers (a.k.a., Modelers) who also taught chemistry had begun applying Modeling methods in their chemistry courses. A small group of expert Modelers who had been working to restructure their chemistry teaching to make it more model-centered, articulated the fundamental conceptual models of chemistry, developed a learning sequence for these models, and created activities and resources needed to support a Chemistry Modeling Workshop and chemistry classroom instruction. Modeling Chemistry (5, 8) was developed in 2004 and 2005 for use in high school chemistry courses. The Chemistry Modeling teacher community has subsequently grown to over 2000, thanks to numerous workshops offered nationwide each summer, and the curriculum resources originally developed to support workshops have evolved and expanded. Why Models and Modeling? In redesigning the learning environment, one needs to have a way of thinking about how existing knowledge is structured and accessed, how new information is assimilated into or coordinated with existing models, and how the interactions between students, their tools and artifacts affect the learning experience. Over the last 80 years, as cognitive science has risen to prominence in psychology and the learning sciences, many theories of how knowledge is structured have been advanced, but at their foundation most have features that are similar. All posit the existence of basic cognitive units or structures, although they carry a variety of names—elements, concepts, schemas, chunks, scripts, models—which can be constructed, modified, combined, and/or elaborated (3). Theories of Cognition upon Which Models and Modeling Are Founded In his seminal work, A Theory of Remembering (14), Bartlett first proposed the term schema to identify the way knowledge is structured and stored in memory. His research revealed that memories are essentially reconstructed each time we “remember” them rather than being reproduced intact as if from some “mental motion picture file.” Since Bartlett first advanced his schema theory, numerous 74

cognitive scientists have tried to discern the mechanisms by which schematizing takes place. In her Prototype Theory, Rosch (15) introduced a definition-based model of categories that corresponds well to the elements that interact within schemas. The prototypical member of a category is one that possesses the most attributes that are characteristic of that category. So for example, in the category, ‘bird,’ which has the features beak, feather, wings, and flight, a robin is more prototypically a bird than a penguin is. Schank and Cleary extended Bartlett’s assertion that memory is schematic with Script Theory (16) in which knowledge structures (schemas) may be conceived of as subconscious scripts that determine how ‘something’ or ‘someone’ behaves in a particular situation. For example a “going to the movies” script might include standing in line at the box office, purchasing a ticket, entering the theater, buying popcorn, finding a seat in the theater, watching the movie, and exiting after the credits. Catrambone’s (17) investigation of story analogs and Fauconnier’s studies (18) of conceptual blending reinforce the notion that in making sense of something novel, people draw on familiar situations or narratives (i.e., scripts), mapping new elements onto an existing well understood structure and then manipulating that structure to answer questions or make predictions. The Information Processing theories of cognition that became popular in the 80s and 90s (19–22) are a class of schema theories that have employed the computer as a metaphor for modeling human cognition. ACT-R Theory (Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational) (23) subdivides memory into declarative memory, production memory, and working memory. According to Anderson, declarative memory is a long-term repository of fairly stable knowledge structures (schemas), production memory is the place where these schemas are actively used and modified, and working memory is where incoming perceptions are encoded and outgoing actions are produced. The capacity of working memory (think RAM) is limited—too many bits of knowledge at once and the cognitive load becomes too great to manage. Chunking of information—connecting lots of little bits into a few big bits—is a strategy to help manage this load (24). For instance, consider the following digits: 5, 5, 8, 9, 0, 5, 9, 7, 6 and 1. As a list of 10 digits these would be difficult to memorize, but if they are chunked like this—558-905-9761—they become an easily memorized phone number. Over the last two decades, these theories of cognition have been extended and modified to become embodied theories of cognition—grounded in the sensorimotor system, with the physical conformation of the human body (e.g., bipedal, upright stance with the head at the top of the body, bilateral symmetry, upper extremities with hands that can grasp and manipulate, close-set eyes that face forward, etc.) supplying an implicit context that shapes the way we think and make sense of our world. Embodied theories of cognition are also schema theories. Fauconnier’s theory of Conceptual Blending (18) is an embodied theory of cognition that has many parallels with neural network modeling, which also views cognition as grounded in the sensorimotor system. Building upon the notion that “if cognition in science is an extension of common sense, then the structure of models in science should reflect structure of 75

cognition in general,” Hestenes has advanced the Modeling Theory of Cognition (25). He makes a crucial distinction between mental models (private constructions within an individual’s mind, i.e., schemas) and conceptual models (a structure encoded in symbols that activates a corresponding structure in others’ minds). Conceptual models, then, are public, shared representations and cognition (i.e., modeling), as defined by this theoretical perspective, is the construction and manipulation of conceptual models from private mental models.

Models Teaching and learning are thus concerned with designing learning environments in which students’ mental models are reshaped and reformulated to become robust, coherent, shared conceptual models. A model is a representation of structure in a physical system—a conceptual representation of a real thing (25) whose structure corresponds to the structure of what it represents. Models are composed of elements, operations, relations, and rules (26). Models of physical phenomena—the kinds of models we think with and think about in chemistry have different types of structure: geometric structure, temporal structure, object structure, systemic structure, and interaction structure. The fundamental models of chemistry are essentially particles of increasing complexity, and the interactions between particles that this complexity enables. Simple questions can be addressed with simple models. A simple featureless particle—the Democritus model—is sufficient to develop the ideas of mass, volume, density and conservation. In teaching young children about the simplest properties of matter all we need is Democritus’ model of a substance (not Bohr’s).

Why Organize a Course around a Series of Particle Models of Increasing Complexity? A careful observation of how students describe matter and its changes reveals that beginning chemistry students do not have and often never fully develop a consistent mental model of matter as discrete particles. Instead they tend to view matter, at least in part, as a continuous material with no substructure, even in the face of explicit instruction in atomic theory and its applications (27–32). Those who have robust mental models at this stage tend to be more successful in dealing with the more demanding reasoning involved in characterizing reactions and solving problems in stoichiometry. Those with weaker microscopic models, or who utilize particulate reasoning inconsistently, struggle more as the course progresses, usually resorting to algorithmic approaches rather than conceptual understanding. This difficulty persists in spite of teachers’ sincere efforts to communicate the particle nature of matter to their students. Students may use the right language in assignments, but it falls apart for many when pushed to give explanations of the observed behavior of matter. This lack of clarity often causes more difficulty in later topics that require particle-based reasoning such as balancing equations. 76

To address this difficulty, the opening units of MI in Chemistry are very deliberate in requiring students to connect observed macroscopic phenomena to the characteristics of microscopic particles. After recognizing that a particle model of matter can account for mass conservation and density differences in the opening unit, students try to apply their model to explain phenomena such as diffusion and the dependence of the pressure of a gas on its volume, the number of particles, and temperature. They soon realize that their static particle model is inadequate and are gradually led to develop an understanding of Kinetic-Molecular Theory. This pattern of model development and subsequent modification as new phenomena are introduced has its roots in the CHEM-Study curriculum (33) introduced in the 1960’s. In the Modeling approach students are introduced to phenomena that require them to modify their model of matter introducing features only as needed to account for their observations. For example, a model of the atom with complex internal structure is not necessary to understand why gases behave as they do. This sequence of model development (Democritus → Dalton → Avogadro → Thomson → Rutherford → Bohr) is outline below in Table 1. It has been our experience that Modeling Chemistry students find this approach to learning chemistry more engaging than plowing through the myriad of topics found in most traditional chemistry textbooks. Textbooks are, unfortunately, often organized in a way that is sensible to those who already understand chemistry (34). Organizing the content of the chemistry course around a series of models that become more complex as the need arises makes it easier for students to make sense of their observations of the macroscopic world.

The Design of the MI Learning Environment The MI learning environment is carefully designed to support student communication and teacher listening and facilitation. For students to engage in productive scientific discourse they need to see and hear each other. A learning space where student desks are arranged in clusters or in a large circle is more conducive to student discussion than traditional rows of desks. Students must learn to value “thinking aloud” together—to appreciate that knowledge resides in their peers, not just in their teacher. Therefore, the most desirable classroom layout allows students to sit facing one another around a whiteboard on which they can all write and enables teachers to remove themselves from the center of attention and, instead, move freely among student groups, listening to how their thinking is developing as they work together to prepare their whiteboards (3, 36).


Table 1. The MI Progression of Models (35) Unit

Model - features

Concepts addressed



Simple particle Every substance (element or compound) can be represented as a simple particle (BB) with no internal structure (Democritus model)

Conservation of mass, Extensive properties: mass and volume, Intensive property: density

Any sample of matter has properties of mass (inherent property due to number and type of particle) and volume (due to number and size of particles). Mass is conserved during change because particles are only rearranged during different types of change. Density (first viewed as the slope of a graph of mass vs. volume) is due to the kind and arrangement of the basic particles; it is a property of a substance. Gases are much less dense than solids and liquids due to the separation of particles.


Particles in motion Particles are in constant, random, thermal motion

Temperature as measure of thermal energy, Gas pressure, Kinetic Molecular Theory

Diffusion in gases and liquids provides evidence for the motion of particles. Temperature is a measure of the thermal energy (Eth) of the particles - this is related to particle motion. Gases exert pressure due to collisions of particles with walls of container. Proportional relationships between P, V, T and n are developed empirically; no memorization of Gas Law equations. KMT is introduced to account for observed relationships.


Particles store and transfer energy The particles exert attractions on one another. Metaphor of energy as conserved substance-like quantity

Unitary energy concept, Energy storage and transfer rather than "forms" of energy, Conservation of energy

Rather than describe different types of energy, a unitary model of energy is introduced, with emphasis on the ways a system stores energy (accounts) and mechanisms for transfer between system and surroundings. Changes in thermal energy ΔEth are related to mass, change in temperature and type of substance. Phase energy (Eph) is related to the arrangement and attractions between particles in a given phase; attractions always lower the energy of bound particles. Continued on next page.


Table 1. (Continued). The MI Progression of Models (35) Unit

Model - features

Concepts addressed



Compound particles The particles that make up substances can be compounded from smaller particles. (Dalton model)

Dalton model of atom, Laws of definite and multiple proportions, Avogadro’s Hypothesis

Matter is composed of pure substances or mixtures of pure substances. The molecules of pure substances have definite composition and properties whereas the composition and properties of mixtures are variable. Molecules of pure substances can be broken down into simpler particles (atoms or molecules). Introduction to Avogadro’s Hypothesis - from combining volumes of gases at the same T & P, we can determine the ratio in which molecules react.


Atoms/molecules have definite masses Counting/weighing particles too small to see

Avogadro’s Hypothesis and molar mass

From masses of gases at same T & P we can determine the relative mass of individual molecules. From these results it is possible to determine the molar masses of the elements; using these masses and formulas of compounds, one can determine molar masses of compounds. These tools allow one to relate “how much stuff” to “how many particles”.


Atoms with internal structure (Thomson model)

Thomson model of atom to account for electrical interactions, Molecular vs ionic compounds, Nomenclature

Examination of the behavior of charge leads to the Thomson model of the atom. Charge plays a role in the attractive forces that hold solids and liquids together and binds the atoms in molecules or crystal lattices. Molecular substances are composed of neutral molecules, whereas ionic substances are lattice-work structures of ions. These two kinds of substance have different structures and physical properties. Continued on next page.


Table 1. (Continued). The MI Progression of Models (35) Unit

Model - features

Concepts addressed



Atoms in compounds can rearrange Chemical reactions involve rearrangement of atoms in molecules to form new molecules.

Chemical and thermal energy, Balanced equations

Chemical reactions involve rearrangement of atoms to form new molecules. A chemical reaction can be represented symbolically as a balanced equation. This rearrangement of atoms results in change in the chemical potential energy (Ech) and thermal energy (Eth) of the system as well as energy transfers between system and surroundings.


Application of models from units 5&7 Relate numbers of particles (molecules or formula units) to weighable amounts of these particles.

Stoichiometry I (mass-mole)

Particle diagrams help to make sense of balanced equations as symbolic representations of chemical change. Emphasis is placed on using coefficients to describe ratios of substances involved in a reaction system. The treatment of stoichiometry is based on these ratios used in conjunction with the skills learned in unit 5, rather than on a set of algorithms that divorce the problem from its reaction-system context; e.g., (grams → moles A → moles B → grams B).


Further applications of models from units 5&7

Stoichiometry II (gas volumes, molarity, ΔH)

The balanced equations representing chemical reactions can also relate numbers of particles (molecules or formula units) to volumes of gases, solution volumes, and the change in chemical potential energy.


Rutherford and Bohr models of atom

Internal structure of nucleus, Interaction of light and matter

From an examination of the radiation emitted by hot metals and atomic gases we conclude that atoms must have internal structure not explained by Thomson’s model. Students examine evidence for Rutherford and Bohr models of the atom, including the contributions made by Milliken, Moseley, and Chadwick. Continued on next page.


Table 1. (Continued). The MI Progression of Models (35) Unit

Model - features

Concepts addressed



Men-in-well model of electron arrangement Bohr model extended

Electron structure, Periodicity, Ionic and covalent bonding, Covalent bonds as shared pairs of valence electrons

Examination of successive ionization energies can be used to extend the Bohr model to many-electron atoms, using it to provide a structural explanation for the organization of the Periodic Table. The men-in-well model accounts for ionic bonding; the Lewis model represents covalently bonded molecules.

Lewis model of covalent bonding


Atoms with uneven distribution of valence electrons

Intermolecular forces, Molecular polarity, solubility, Biological macromolecules

Model accounts for various types of intermolecular forces of attraction (London, dipole-dipole, hydrogen bonding) and molecular polarity. The type and strength of attractions account for trends in mp and bp, miscibility of liquids and solubility of solids. The role of these forces in the structure and function of important biological macromolecules is also examined.


Kinetic model of opposing processes Equilibrium transfer game

Collision theory and reaction rates, Equilibrium, LeChatelier’s Principle

Role of temperature, concentration and pressure in chemical kinetics. Various equilibria in processes (liquid-vapor, solute-solution, partition) and reactions are modeled by the exchange of particles between "containers". This exchange explicitly models rates of opposing processes.


Bronsted-Lowry model of acids and bases

Properties of acids and bases, Strong vs. weak acids

Exchange of H+ ions between species in acid-base equilibria and relative strengths of acids and bases is viewed in terms of competition by bases for H+ ions.


A hallmark of all Modeling classrooms is the use of student whiteboards. Typically measuring 24” x 32,” these dry erase surfaces are large enough that several students can write on them simultaneously and a single board can accommodate multiple representations of the phenomenon under investigation. A useful means for communication and collective sense-making, these work surfaces are integral to the culture of the Modeling classroom and the conversations that take place around preparing and sharing them provide the teacher valuable insights into student thinking. Whiteboards serve as the central tool for student communication as they present and defend their ideas (3). The regular use of whiteboards increases participation and persistence, and leads to more discussion when compared to paper and pencil or computer screen (37). Most Modelers arrange their classrooms so that there is an area in which students can easily convene as a group with their whiteboards for “board meetings.” If there is enough space, students gather with their chairs in a circle and prop their whiteboards against their knees so that everyone can see everyone else’s whiteboard and they can comfortably carry on an extended conversation. The goal is to encourage student-to-student conversation, so every effort is made to have students face one another, rather than facing the teacher or the front of the classroom. When classroom space is at a premium, however, teachers have developed novel ways to accommodate board meetings, including hooks on the walls so that students are surrounded by their whiteboards. Effort is made to have students’ talk and to make the whiteboarded representations of their thinking the center of everyone’s attention, rather than the teacher and the teacher’s utterances.

Whiteboard-Mediated Discourse Student discourse is a vital element in the MI classroom. It is where students exteriorize their thought processes, compare them with one another, subject them to reasoned analysis, justify (or discard) them, and, ideally, identify the limits or boundary conditions of the model they are constructing. Gee and Green (38) identify multiple discourses, which they calls ‘big D’ and ‘little d’ discourses. ‘Big D’ discourses belong to language communities, (i.e., chemists, Republicans, gang members, etc.) and include non-language cultural references that are specific to particular identities and/or activities, while ‘little d’ discourse is simply language in everyday use. We are all members of many different discourse communities. These discourses can influence each other and give rise to new “hybrid” discourses. It is this formation of a new hybrid discourse that can prove challenging to chemistry students and their teachers. The two types of discourse that routinely occur in Modeling classrooms address this challenge: small group work and board meetings. The “think-aloud” conversations that small groups of three or four students have as they prepare their whiteboard are a hybrid discourse. This hybrid moves toward the ‘Big D’ discourse of the chemistry community as the academic year progresses. The goal of small group work is for students to share a mutual understanding of the phenomenon they are attempting to represent, and their whiteboarded 82

representations—diagrams, graphs, symbols—are tools with which they think together—tools for helping student groups build this shared understanding. The Board Meeting, in which the entire class discusses all groups’ findings and works toward a consensus model of the phenomenon under study, is an opportunity for the teacher, as a representative of the Chemistry Discourse Community, to help students learn how to use discipline-specific language, i.e., to develop skill in ‘Big D’ Discourse. Rather than introducing vocabulary before concepts, students construct and define concepts using everyday language. Only after they have arrived at an operational definition does the teacher supply the term they have defined. Board Meetings are guided rather than led by the teacher, which requires the establishment of a classroom culture that embraces uncertainty and values the expression of partially formed ideas in pursuit of advancing collective understanding. Students must feel comfortable and safe sharing their thinking.

Classroom Culture Creating a climate that fosters this sort of productive discourse takes time and effort. A decade or more of immersion in the conventional culture of schooling leads most students to believe that to succeed they need to be quiet, listen to the teacher, take notes, follow directions, finish in the allotted time, and, above all, get the right answer. The teacher sets the agenda and calls the shots, and the ultimate goal for students who wish to do well is to get the teacher to give them points (39). In a Modeling classroom a new classroom culture is negotiated, and to do this both teacher and students must be clear about their goal: useful, collaboratively constructed, shared conceptual models. Teacher questioning is best when it is open-ended. We must learn to wait through those inevitable awkward silences rather than rushing to call on someone or simply supplying the answer ourselves so that the discussion can move ahead. And rather than passing judgment on whether a student’s utterance is right or wrong, we need to accept every answer, for it is a potential window on student thinking—a snapshot of a student’s conceptual model as it is being built (or dismantled and rebuilt). Both teachers and students must learn to press for answers to be justified. In short, the typical hierarchy of the classroom must evolve to a more horizontally integrated learning community where students feel that they can look with confidence to their peers to help them learn. Redesigning the learning environment in this fashion is effortful for both teacher and student but with time a rich discourse community emerges. It is the skill with which the teacher learns to manage this discourse that determines the quality of the conceptual models that students construct, and it is the acquisition and practice of these discourse management skills that is the chief activity of the Modeling Workshops teachers attend to learn the practice of MI.


Sense-Making in the Making So what does Modeling discourse look like “in the wild?” What follows is a brief excerpt from a 45-minute Board Meeting discussion in a high school chemistry classroom that illustrates the interaction between teacher, students, and whiteboarded representations. At the start of a new unit in which students learn to represent chemical change at the particle level, the instructor has asked his students to prepare whiteboards of a laboratory activity they just completed. They were asked to represent a copper(II) chloride solution before and after iron nails were added. His goal was to see how students understood the role water molecules played in the solution. After the students spent a few minutes preparing their whiteboards and coming to an agreement in their small groups about how they would describe what took place in solution, they gathered in a circle displaying their whiteboards to their classmates. After spending a few moments to review each other’s whiteboards, the instructor asked them if they had any questions they wanted to ask others about the representations they saw on others’ whiteboards.

Figure 1. A student whiteboard showing a particle diagram of a copper (II) chloride solution before and after iron nails were added. (Photo Courtesy of Carlos Montero) 84

One student, Sam, looking at one group’s whiteboard (Figure 1), pointed out: Sam: On the bottom right picture, there’s a green circle with 3 water molecules and 2 open green circles that aren’t on any of the other pictures and that confused me because I don’t know what’s going on. Instructor: Josh (who is holding whiteboard), how do you respond? Josh: (pointing to whiteboard) To explain that I’d say that we meant to surround those, like you see these right here, with water, but the problem is that we were still deciding what’s going on over there and I guess we got a little bit distracted on the whole drawing here and … But this was supposed to be like that and... this is just incorrect. Instructor: OK, so, what is supposed to be happening? We’ve already been discussing how solutions form and how water keeps the ions apart [pause] and Will said that – look - they’re split. How do we know that the ions are split? Why aren’t the copper and chloride ions together? [Calls on Liam] Liam: Because when we tested the conductivity, it still conducted electricity, so that means the ions would have to be separated, because if it were together it would be neutral. Instructor: So you’re saying that this solution right here [holds up beaker with copper chloride solution] would be able to conduct electricity? Shall we test that once again? [The instructor puts electrodes into solution and the bulb lights. Students agree that the solution does conduct electricity] OK, so it does conduct... so Liam is right. There are several points worth noting in the above transcript: The instructor asked the students about the questionable representation, rather than critiquing and correcting it himself. After Josh responded, the instructor asked students for the evidence to support the representation showing that the ions were split up in solution: “How do we know…?” Only after Liam cited evidence did the instructor perform a confirming demonstration. The discussion then turned to the orientation of the water molecules surrounding the Cu2+ and Cl1- ions. Instructor: How do we know that the waters have that orientation towards the ions? Bill: [Begins to answer, but misunderstands point of question, asserting that the oxygen has to be connected to the hydrogen for the water to be water. His partner corrects him.] Linda: No, because the chloride is negative and the hydrogen is positive, and negative and positive attract…because two positives can’t be attracted to each other. Instructor: And how do we know that hydrogen is positive? Linda: Because in water, oxygen is negative so hydrogen must be positive. Instructor: How do we know that? Linda: Because we also tested it. Instructor: How did we test it? Jared: We separated it with, um… 85

Linda: Oh, I know why. Instructor: Let Jared express it. Jared: We separated it with that over there [pointing to Hoffmann apparatus], and then when you um… Instructor: What separated the water? Jared: Um, electricity. Instructor: OK, when you did that how did you figure out what part of water is positive and what is negative? [Jared hesitates, others raise their hands. The teacher offers Jared some encouragement.] You’re doing well. You said, “We separated water with electricity,” so how do you know the oxygen is negative and the hydrogen is positive? Jared: Oh, because of what it was attracted to, like well the hydrogen will attract the negative. Instructor: Negative what? You’re almost there. [Calls on student next to Jared] Isabella, can you help him finish? How do we know that in water the oxygen is negative and the hydrogen is positive? Isabella: I can’t exactly remember… Instructor: What do you think? How did we split water up? [Isabella essentially repeats what Jared said earlier] You’re missing an important thing. Jared, still don’t remember? Maybe Stephan will remind us. Stephan: We know that hydrogen was positive because it formed on the negative side where we were sending the negative electricity to. Instructor: Oh, so the hydrogen gas formed where? [Students affirm it was the negative side.] On the negative electrode. [Here the instructor used this as an opportunity to “coach” students in Big D Discourse by rephrasing their utterances using the correct term (negative electrode).] This excerpt from a much longer discussion reveals how the instructor works to move students from answer-making towards sense-making. Rather than accepting the first student’s remark about the orientation of the water molecules around the ions—in effect rewarding him for providing “the right answer” and bypassing the rest of the students’ thinking about what was taking place, he continued to probe the class, asking students to provide evidence to support the claims they were making. He did not stop after Jared pointed to the electrolysis apparatus used to separate the water. Instead he asked for specifics about a demonstration that had been performed earlier, helping the students apply what they had learned from the earlier demonstration to this new situation. Developing Discourse Habits and Skills Productive classroom discourse does not just happen on its own. Instructors must set the tone in developing an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing. Establishing discussion norms and expectations from the start of the semester allows cooperative construction of a supportive learning environment. Since the aim is to build a collaborative learning community, the establishment of norms should be done in conversation with students to help foster their buy-in. The most important norm is for students to listen to each other and respectfully 86

respond to one another (40). The teacher must constantly model this for students by critiquing ideas, not individuals. Some students may need encouragement to speak up so that everyone can hear them. All should understand that everyone is expected to participate. Once these expectations are agreed upon, they must be regularly reinforced and revisited until they become thoroughly engrained in the classroom culture (40). The entire classroom community shares the burden of asking questions and pressing their peers to justify their assertions. This should not be perceived as the exclusive purview of the teacher. Some coaching and encouragement will be necessary to help students build this habit, but eventually they will learn to step up, especially when the teacher refuses to do it for them. Two types of questions are generally used in such a discussion: the clarification question and the extension question.

Clarification Questions How do you know …? Where did you get…? How did you know …? What does ____ tell you? What does ____ mean? Where on your (graph, diagram, chart, etc.) does ______?

Extension Questions What if we changed ____? How is this problem different from ____? How is this problem similar to ____? How does ____ compare to ____? Is there another way to do this problem? Can you show us? Teachers do not typically need a question “cheat sheet”—they know that these are good questions, but to help students build their questioning skills, many teachers will provide students a question list like the one above (or co-construct one in a class discussion). When students are first learning how to drive the discussion, a little support is welcome. They won’t need it for long. Initially students will feel exposed in this collaborative sense-making environment. Teachers need to help students learn to trust the process and allow themselves to be vulnerable. Students need to recognize the value of learning from one another, even when they struggle to do so, as an essential part of becoming critical thinkers. They need to realize that the processes of conducting an investigation, making sense of their observations and defending their thinking are as important as knowledge they acquire in doing so. To this end, instructors should acknowledge students who take chances, step up, and participate in class. Be generous with praise and positive feedback to all students who take part in 87

the process, not just to those who provide correct answers. It is important to show students they have a measure of control over their own learning. Students become more resilient learners when they realize they are capable of constructing knowledge and are not merely passive receivers of knowledge the expert transmits to them (41). For many teachers, the shift away from direct instruction is challenging. It is effortful to develop trust in students’ ability to learn with increasing independence (40). The teacher’s role in this interactive environment is different, but not diminished. They must carefully prepare for each discussion, identifying the elements, operations, relations, and rules of the model they want students to grasp and connect, and actively engaging with students throughout the lesson. Prior to any episode of classroom discourse, the teacher needs to make explicit its purpose, try to anticipate how the discussion will unfold, be aware of potential misconceptions so they can guide the discussion, and be ready to ask follow up questions to attain the desired outcome (40). Ultimately sense-making is a team effort. Everyone in the classroom is a player on this team—even the teacher, who is both player and coach. The playing field is chemistry, the rules of the game are the norms of practice and engagement that you establish with your students. The tools are laboratory equipment, whiteboards, representations, language, and most importantly—models and modeling—the foundation of the scientific enterprise. Modeling Tasks Since Modeling classrooms are “lecture-free,” student construction, refinement, and application of conceptual models is mediated by a sequence of tasks. Initial model construction is generally done in the context of a laboratory activity. Tasks that students are given in Modeling Chemistry afford some measure of both arousal and control—two primary characteristics of intrinsic motivation (42) that function to keep students engaged in the learning process. Activities are embedded in familiar contexts, and the Modeling Cycle that frames the learning process guides students to continually express, test and revise their model as they construct it. They ‘play the game of chemistry’ as they learn its rules. In the Modeling Cycle from which the above excerpt of discourse was taken (35) the students exit the whole-group discussion with a conceptual understanding of chemical reactions involving electron exchange, precipitation, and solvation of ions. The knowledge constructed here lays the foundation for further study into balancing equations, types of reactions, and predicting products. From the masses of iron lost by the nails and copper that formed, students determine the moles of iron consumed and copper formed in the reaction. They can use bingo chips representing the atoms to help them visualize the process, and then translate what they are seeing into the symbolic representation of a balanced chemical equation. Next they use bingo chips or model kits to represent different reactions at the atomic level, reinforcing the idea that every atom of the reactants will be found in the products—nothing appears or disappears. This representation also helps them see the physical distinction between subscripts and coefficients in writing balanced 88

equations. The use worksheets to practice translating between particle diagrams, chemical equations, and verbal descriptions. Subsequently, students observe sample reactions of different types and write balanced equations for each reaction. Discussion of this lab uncovers the energy changes that were observed and puts them in terms of changes in chemical potential and thermal energy. The difficulty students often have with this concept is that they cannot directly measure chemical potential energy (Ech). Instead, a change in Ech must be inferred by a change in the temperature of the system. Students find the notion that a process that increases the temperature of the system as one that results in a lower energy arrangement of particles as counterintuitive. Only when they are forced to consider that an increase in one energy “account” must be accompanied by a decrease in another “account” (in a closed system) do they really grasp the notion of energy conservation (43). Ultimately, students’ conceptual model of matter is a fully featured Thomson model of the atom with mobile electrons which can be exchanged between atoms, allowing for the development of balanced equations to represent reactions. Their energy concept is refined to include chemical and thermal energy storage and transfer. The progressive sophistication of the model sets the stage for stoichiometry based on ratios rather than a set of algorithms that divorce the problem from its reaction-system context.

The Role of Representations MI relies heavily on the use of multiple representations of physical phenomena. Johnstone describes macroscopic, sub-microscopic (particulate), and symbolic representations as the “conceptual tripod” of chemistry—three ways of representing structure (44, 45). A phenomenon can be described macroscopically (e.g., salt dissolves in water), microscopically (e.g., sodium and chloride ions, attracted by polar water molecules, break free from their crystal lattice), or symbolically (e.g., NaCl(s) + H2O → Na+(aq) + Cl-(aq) + H2O). The first two encode information spatially. The last is a conceptual (or propositional) representation (3, 46). Each carries the same basic information, but encoding the information spatially (in the case of the macroscopic or particle diagrams) or propositionally (in the case of the chemical equation) calls attention to different elements of structure. We learned to think with spatial representations long before we had conceptual systems such as language or symbol systems. Infants routinely encode three-dimensional shapes of objects before they are a year old (47, 48). We learn language (a conceptual representation), by mapping spatial representations onto words. The reverse of this spatial to conceptual mapping process (e.g., from words to ideas or objects) comes later. When a student maps information from a word problem onto a symbol set, their representation is confined to the problem’s conceptual structure. They abstract the information that they can symbolize from the problem. They may also (privately) map it to a spatial representation…or not. This requires additional effort (3, 46). 89

As Johnstone points out, teachers move smoothly and effortlessly among these three modes of representation, often without realizing how difficult it is for students to translate from one to the next. Stepping from a macro to sub-micro requires deliberate practice. Requiring students to routinely illustrate their thinking with multiple representations hones their ability to move more fluidly within “Johnstone’s Triangle”.

Whiteboarding Whiteboarded representations have the benefit of being shareable and transportable. Certain representational practices, such as particle diagrams and chemical formulas, are well enough developed that the representations they produce are adaptable and reusable to represent a variety of relationships. Creating and interpreting such images are skills that are learned, and in the learning process, students must develop an awareness of how the choices they make in constructing a representation can be interpreted. There is a risk that the task of producing pre-determined representations can become so proceduralized that the representation becomes an end in itself and it is not employed as a reasoning tool (49). Whiteboards are created by small groups, typically three or four students. Members of each small group construct a shared understanding of a phenomenon—either observed or described—in conversation with one another as they prepare their whiteboard (as opposed to negotiating what to write down about a problem they have each solved separately beforehand). In such an activity, both the whiteboard marker and the eraser tend to pass from one member of the group to the next often during the co-construction of multiple representations as students try out various ways of illustrating their thinking. Group members typically contribute to the discourse as co-equals—no one person controls the conversation. The discussion is less apt to be about whose version of an idea should appear on the whiteboard and more apt to center on what it means to write or draw one thing as opposed to another. There is plenty of erasing and rewriting as students jot down diagrams and equations to help them communicate their thinking to their teammates or visualize the various elements in a model, how they relate to one another and how they can be manipulated. This helps them manage cognitive load (24). Offloading their ideas in the form of written representations frees up working memory to handle more information. When using whiteboards in this way, as a medium for communicating and exploring partially formed knowledge structures, some students seem to prefer to express their thinking as spatial representations while others prefer symbolic representations. Those who prefer symbolic representation are more often talking to themselves than to other members of the group. This is confirmed by the fact that although they may speak as they write, the talk is seldom directed to anyone in particular, and it is seldom answered by the speaker’s group-mates (3).


Managing Collaborative Sense-Making Central characteristics of a Modeling classroom are inquiry, observation, collaboration, communication, and reasoning. From structuring the physical layout of the classroom to cultivating a culture of trust and support, the instructor must become the conscious and conscientious architect of the learning environment. Establishing norms for classroom interactions early in the semester and sticking with them will ultimately produce a lively, engaging learning environment. While the classroom discourse that takes place in small groups around a whiteboard is largely under the management and control of students, the teacher is the architect of Board Meeting discourse (3, 39). In a typical classroom setting students expect the teacher to lead whole group discussions. A good Board Meeting is one where the teacher prompts the discussion to begin, but then pulls back so that the students assume control. This is a behavior that must be learned both by teacher and by students. This presents a special challenge for teachers who want students to step up and take the lead in helping one another make sense of complex ideas. It is critical that, from the beginning of the year, the teacher set explicit expectations regarding students’ roles and participation in Board Meeting discourse. As quickly as possible, the teacher must withdraw the supportive questioning he or she typically supplies to keep a discussion moving forward, and leave the way open for students to step in and supply one another with the necessary scaffolding. To do this, students must know how to ask good questions. They learn to do this by imitation. If the teacher asks them the same kinds of questions over and over as he or she wanders the classroom observing whiteboard preparation, eventually students begin to question one another in the same way. The questions that teachers ‘seed’ as they circulate in the classroom and drop in and out of small group whiteboard preparation conversations, are echoed by students as they help one another work through problems during Board Meetings (36). Some students who are new to MI are reluctant to participate. The teacher can draw them into the conversation by asking them whether they agree with some reasoning or interpretation expressed by a classmate or by prompting them to restate what a classmate said in their own words. If they are unable to do so, the class can be challenged to re-state the explanation in a way that this student understands. Turning the burden of explaining over to students casts them in the role of peer tutor. The goals of Board Meeting participants shift from “getting the right answer” to “making sure their classmates understand the phenomenon.” When the students embrace this goal, they will persist in discussing a complex problem long after the answer has been revealed because they understand that the real problem they are expected to solve is how to make the basic underlying structure of the phenomenon—the model—clear to all participants. One way to gauge the quality of Board Meeting discourse is to pay attention to how many student contributions are directed to the teacher. If a student addresses the teacher, other students do not actively engage in formulating a reply to their classmate’s remark. On the other hand, if a student’s remarks are directed toward the class, then every other student is a potential respondent. In fact, if some 91

student does not respond, the conversation will stall and an uncomfortable silence will ensue. For students to take and hold the floor in a Board Meeting, then, the teacher must refrain from rescuing them when periodic silences occur. Unless the discussion is at an end (which means that members of the group are satisfied that everyone understands the solution to the problem and the underlying conceptual model upon which it is based) the teacher should wait, just as the students are waiting, for some student to get it moving again. If they have genuinely reached an impasse, students will resort to directing their question to the teacher. At this point, the teacher must enter the discourse. To keep from taking control of the conversation, the teacher can reply with a question that redirects students to some element of the conceptual model or some aspect of the problem that students can use to reengage with the problem. Or, if the teacher thinks, based on the content of the conversation, that one of the students in the group has an important idea that has been overlooked, he or she might suggest that the group revisit this person’s idea. It is important in this case to give students as little prompting as possible to help them restart the discussion and then to once again withdraw to the role of observer leaving the students to control the conversation. At the close of a Board Meeting some student (or group) should summarize what was learned. The teacher must re-enter the conversation at this point, and will usually prompt this closing summary by asking a student to recap the discussion. If the teacher feels there is still some confusion about key ideas, or if the scope of the conversation is so large that elements may be overlooked, he or she may guide the group to construct a summary by asking a series of questions that help them identify the key elements and how they connect. In addition to Board Meetings, some Modeling teachers have small groups take turns coming to the front of the class to present their results and conclusions. The structure of discourse is different in this case. Initially the group talks about what is written on their board—sometimes they take turns describing the different representations and other times one member of the group is delegated to do a full description. The group’s presentation is typically followed by a pause—an interval, sometimes quite extended, during which everyone waits for ‘someone’ to ask a question or make a comment. Students are typically better at waiting than teachers, and the questioning that ensues, while appropriately Socratic, is usually controlled by the teacher. Unfortunately, such questioning typically becomes a two way exchange between teacher and student-group, and often the rest of the class is observed to tune out, or to spend their time writing furiously, capturing what is written on the whiteboard before the questioning is finished and the presenters sit down. Students seem to treat this presentation format as a performance rather than any opportunity to discuss and make sense of their results. Their goal is to have the “right answers” and to escape to their seats as soon as possible. Their peers are usually complicit—not challenging their reasoning or asking them difficult questions. In fact they rarely ask any questions, preferring to leave that task to the teacher. There may be many factors that account for the way this format plays out—years of conditioning as a result of oral presentations in other classrooms, 92

the physical layout of the classroom (rows of desks facing forward so that students aren’t looking at each other), the ever present desire for points and good grades—but whatever the reason, effective use of this format requires great effort on the part of the teacher in establishing and enforcing norms for participation similar to those for a Board Meeting. Zooming: Keeping an Eye on the Model It is easy for students to lose sight of the model during routine classroom activity (3, 39, 49). The initial paradigm lab ultimately yields a chemical equation, and sometimes students mistake this for the model rather than as a symbolic representation that encodes conceptual information about the structure of the model. It is as if students are ‘zoomed in’ on the details of the model (as if viewing the phenomenon through the high power lens of a microscope) and they can no longer see the overarching big picture. Students who can ‘zoom out’ and see the spatial-temporal and interaction structure of a phenomenon as well as its propositional structure demonstrate a more coherent understanding of the conceptual model and are more readily able to apply it to new contexts (39, 49). Students who start by constructing spatial representations are typically better at zooming in and out that those who begin with symbolic representations (3). For this reason, we encourage the use of particle diagrams and graphs before the use of equations in solving quantitative problems. Teachers can help students who get stuck on the mathematical and symbol manipulation details of a problem to zoom out by asking questions that redirect them to the physical situation being modeled.

Conclusion Implications for Instruction It is said there are three stages to becoming a teacher (50): concern for self (a.k.a. survival), concern for task (a.k.a. becoming efficient), and concern for students (becoming an educator). Good teaching is not the same as polished lecturing and slick PowerPoints. Good teaching only happens when good learning results. Imagine how much easier it is to know that learning is happening when you can hear your students construct their understanding. Here are some strategies that are known to be effective in Modeling classrooms (3, 39):

Choose Good Tasks Create tasks for small group work that are open-ended. Focus on probing the process rather than requiring the use of a certain algorithm or producing a particular answer. Whiteboard problems that require students to apply the model in a new way. Often this means that everyone in the class may be whiteboarding the same 93

problem. Use Board Meetings rather than formal whiteboard presentations to share these exercises with the whole group. They are a more effective use of time.

Set Board Meeting Expectations Set the explicit expectation that your students will lead the discussion in board meetings. Hand over the floor to them so that they can exchange ideas freely. Encourage them to talk to their classmates—not to you. Follow their lead. Prompt rather than grill. Probe the boundary between spatial and propositional representations and make sure students can move easily back and forth across it. If students are zoomed in on the computation process, help them zoom out by redirecting their gaze to the problem context and physical phenomenon. And if an important question is on the table, such as how a model applies, do not let them off the hook by answering it yourself. Make them find the answer themselves, even if you have to come back to it later. Make them arrive at the answer themselves—answers they can justify—not just answers they have guessed right. Make sure they are convinced and can convince each other that they are reasoning correctly about a situation. Then take the vital step of checking with other students to see if they are convinced. And do not take ‘yes’ for an answer. Make them articulate what they understand in their own words, and listen to see if there are any important elements missing from what they say. Make sure they can zoom in and zoom out without their model falling apart.

Watch and Listen Attend to students as individuals as well as in groups. Learn to watch and listen to what students who are listening to the presentations of others say and do. Are they engaged? Are they perplexed? What are they taking from what is being said? This is difficult to do unless we let someone else have the floor. When we are on deck, we do not have the attention to spare to focus on individual responses to the discourse. We need to practice not taking charge of the conversation. Listen for the kinds of things that students think are important enough to question. Is the student zoomed in or zoomed out? Change their focal plane and see what happens. Listen for potential gaps in their model that are betrayed by the questions they ask. Take time to get to know the students—what they value, what they think—what the telltale signs are that reveal when they are bluffing or guessing.

Build Good Discourse Management Habits Break the habit of soliciting or listening for particular words, phrases or answers—particularly when these answer are just a two or three words long. Sometimes when teachers hear one or more students answer their question with the ‘magic word’ (or words) they are listening for, they take it as a signal that they can move on because the students “get it.” Remember to check on what it is that 94

the student “gets” and consider checking with the rest of the class to see if they are following this student’s line of reasoning. MI—in chemistry or any other subject—is a powerful teaching practice. If you ask its creator, David Hestenes, he will tell you that it works because it is based on the way we think—“we think in models, we think with models, we think about models”—and the organizing principles of models and modeling are how scientists do science. If you ask Modelers what makes MI powerful, they will tell you that it enables them to hear their students think. That’s not just a power—it’s a Superpower!

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Chapter 6

Adapting Visual Art Techniques via Collaborations with a Local Museum To Engage Students in an Interdisciplinary Chemistry and Art Course Carrigan J. Hayes* Department of Chemistry, Otterbein University, 1 South Grove Street, Westerville, Ohio 43081, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Techniques and routines used to observe visual art can provide useful strategies for considering chemical structures and reactions. This chapter describes a collaboration between the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) and a general education chemistry course at Otterbein University. The “Think Like An Artist” framework promoted by the CMA provides a foundation for better understanding the role of creativity in scientific inquiry throughout the course. More specifically, observational techniques used via the CMA’s outreach programs have been translated into both a low-stakes introduction to chemical structures and an inquiry-driven photochemistry experiment. Examples of how the CMA staff have introduced these observational routines, as well as how the routines have been adapted into chemistry-specific exercises, will be provided. Student responses will be summarized, as will benefits and drawbacks seen over the first few offerings of the course.

Introduction: Collaborating with the Columbus Museum of Art The overlap of chemistry and art provides a wealth of opportunities for interdisciplinary education, and this overlap has been highlighted at multiple levels, from elementary school students through college undergraduates (1–4). Otterbein University is a primarily-undergraduate institution in central Ohio, and © 2017 American Chemical Society

its general education program, Integrative Studies (INST), has been nationally highlighted for its deliberately interdisciplinary nature (5). INST courses integrate multiple perspectives into courses and are open to all students at the university, regardless of major or prerequisite knowledge; within this program, the INST 2400-level courses are science-focused and staffed by the biology, chemistry, and physics departments. One such course was developed to explore the overlap between chemistry and art, drawing heavily on the excellent resources (6–9) available from the NSF-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops, and Communities of Scholars (cCWCS) program in Chemistry and Art held at Whitman College in Summer 2010. This lab-based class has a course cap of 24 students; most typically, sophomore and junior students are enrolled, with a variety of majors from the arts and sciences. (In the most recent offering, for instance, the most common majors were theatre, music, and art.) The course was first offered in Spring 2012, but end-of-term feedback was mixed with respect to the specific interdisciplinary learning objectives of the INST program, such as improving critical thinking and connecting areas of expertise. Thus, to more deliberately highlight some of the complementary processes and objectives of science and art, a collaboration with the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) was developed. A staff member from the CMA visited the class in Spring 2013 to facilitate a session on creativity and its crucial role in society as a whole, as well as within the artistic and scientific disciplines. This connection was immediately beneficial; subsequent offerings of the course have seen increased enthusiasm from students in artistic disciplines, STEM, and other majors. The conversation with the CMA has continued in each subsequent course offering, taking a variety of forms from year to year, depending on the specific population of each class. The collaboration has allowed students to explore commonalities between the processes of scientific and artistic work, emphasizing the pertinence of observation and creative questioning to both fields. Creativity is a key focus for the Columbus Museum of Art (10); the museum houses a Center for Creativity in addition to its art collection, including a Wonder Room that allows hands-on investigation of existing artwork and encourages museum-goers to create their own art. Similarly, as part of their educational outreach programs, CMA personnel facilitate “Think Like An Artist,” which focuses on key principles to enhance creative learning: “reflection and revision, persistence through failure, tolerance for ambiguity, curiosity, questioning over answering, valuing influence and collaboration, experimental execution, and idea generation and imagination (11).” Many of these principles echo aspects of the scientific method. In particular, curiosity and experimentation both rely on observation-- “careful noticing,” in the CMA’s definition. Formal techniques have been developed for use with visual art to develop skills in observation. These include “Observe, Describe, Interpret, Prove” (commonly abbreviated as “ODIP”) (12), “See-Think-Wonder (13),” and Visual Thinking Strategies (14). In so doing, these techniques promote skills that are useful across a wide variety of disciplines and, correspondingly, for a wide range of majors. 100

Briefly, ODIP was developed by the CMA and has been used in a variety of area classrooms, from the elementary grades to the college level. A collaboration called the Art of Analysis has been developed between The Ohio State University’s College of Medicine and the CMA, in which medical students visit the CMA to better develop their observational and communication skills through the use of the ODIP process (12). See-Think-Wonder (13) is one of several “thinking routines” developed and promoted by Harvard’s Project Zero that collectively and explicitly acknowledge the steps inherent in several key learning processes; this specific routine prompts independent inquiry from students, as they observe and consider a work of art via leading questions. Finally, the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) framework (14) emphasizes personal connections between an observer and a piece of art and has likewise been used in classrooms at various stages of expertise and experience, including medical schools interested in humanities-based education (15, 16). These formalized thinking routines have been utilized at several educational levels; this chapter explores some of their uses in an undergraduate chemistry course. In this chapter, two observational techniques, ODIP and See-Think-Wonder, will be described in detail, as will their implementation in the classroom in the Spring 2017 semester by CMA personnel. Two subsequent, chemistry-focused activities building on these techniques will be described: first, using ODIP as an initial step towards describing molecular structures; second, using See-ThinkWonder to prompt students to develop individual experiments in photochemistry.

Observational Techniques Used with Visual Art In a typical semester, the Chemistry in Art course at Otterbein University focuses on five distinct topics, each covered over roughly three weeks (Table 1). The CMA class session usually falls in Week 3 or 4 of the semester, at the shift from introductory chemistry material into the more obviously interdisciplinary topics of Pigments and Paints. The CMA facilitator visits the course for a 105-minute class session in which students are invited to consider the mission of the CMA, the importance of creativity, and the “Think Like an Artist” program. To highlight the importance of observational practices, students are presented with two main challenges facing museum personnel: first, the typical pattern for a museum-goer is to spend only a few seconds at a painting before moving on; and second, a viewer tends to jump directly to the meaning of a work. The “Think Like an Artist” framework encourages curiosity and experimentation, both of which begin with slowing down and observing more deliberately. Specifically, ODIP and See-Think-Wonder are used to formally interrupt and extend the observation process; these techniques place a high priority on close, prolonged attention.


Table 1. Typical Coverage in INST 2408, Chemistry in Art Weeks

Major Topic


Light, Color, and Matter


Pigments and Paints




Fakes and Forgeries


Art Conservation

As introduced above, ODIP stands for “Observe, Describe, Interpret, Prove.” In the CMA’s context, these steps begin with a methodical, silent, minute-long observation, followed by descriptions of those observations facilitated by a staffer. Interpretations follow descriptions and are encouraged via leading questions: “What’s going on?” and “What makes you say that?” Finally, the proof of each interpretation, in the context of this routine, is supported via reasoning with evidence (12). Likewise, See-Think-Wonder was originally developed via Harvard’s Project Zero and has been adapted by the CMA. As its name suggests, this technique (13) invites students to consider a work using three key questions: “What do you see? What do you think about that? What does it make you wonder?” In Spring 2017, students had a chance to work through both techniques with sample images, as described below, during the CMA class visit.

ODIP The first image was initially shown with no information given on the title, artist, or medium; it can be seen in full color at the artist’s website (17). As the exercise was completed in the classroom (rather than at the museum), this image was projected on a screen, and students were simply told that it was a two-dimensional, textural (non-flat) image.

Observe/Describe: Students were asked to observe silently for a full minute, at which point the facilitator asked for their descriptions, which initially involved colors and textures. Despite the ODIP technique’s deliberate focus on observation and description, students quickly moved to interpretations, suggesting that the work depicted either a coral reef or a waterfall. The facilitator steered them back into descriptions by helping them work through what about the image led them to those interpretations. One question was particularly effective: “How would you describe this to a person who can’t see it?” Students then returned to descriptive statements, commenting on light effects, perspective lines, and negative versus positive images. 102

Interpret/Prove Next, students were asked to interpret the piece and to prove their interpretation by supporting it with visual evidence. At this point, students expanded on many of their earlier statements, settling on the waterfall as a more likely image than a coral reef and offering support for that interpretation: identifying what areas of the image suggested the waterfall, the sky, and surrounding trees. Moreover, students were asked what type of medium they believed was used with the technique. Many named color photography or watercolor, but others suspected block prints, a stamping method, or black and white photography that had been colored in. Of note, students supported all these different hypotheses with evidence from their own experiences. Eventually, the title, Bubble Gum Number 1, was provided, as was the artist’s name, Matthew Brandt. Incredulous reactions and questions immediately greeted this new information (“Did he develop this using gum?” “All the colors look like gum colors now!” “Did he chew the paper?”). Information was still missing, since the title still did not explain what the actual image depicted. A subsequent revelation provided both the medium and the subject matter; briefly, Brandt describes the work (17) on his own site as a “photograph of Vernal Falls in Yosemite, printed with various edible ingredients in a CMYK [cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black)] or RGB [red, green, and blue] color model.” It is one of several works in a series entitled Taste Tests in Color. Brandt is an artist who is remarkably generous with his process, and so students were able to learn further about his techniques from his exhibit catalog and an accompanying film, which were provided as class resources (18, 19).

See-Think-Wonder Students then worked through the second observational technique, See-ThinkWonder. Again guided by the CMA facilitator, students observed a piece provided without any additional context; this second piece can also be seen in full color online (20). Students answered three guiding questions throughout the exercise: 1.



What do you see? Students commented on the variety of colors, the different textural areas, and the shapes present within the image. Again, their descriptions quickly shifted to what the images made them think of, including vegetation, trees, stalactites and stalagmites, a forest fire, and a bridge. What do you think about that? Students considered how the work was made: some hypotheses included ruined film and painting on water. A few of the artists in the class described past courses they had taken in which they’d seen similar images. What does it make you wonder? The primary question from the class again focused on the process: how were the many different colors and textures created? 103

Finally, the facilitator provided the context of the piece: Photographer Mariah Robertson was cleaning out her studio with help from a friend, and in doing so, a roll of photosensitive mural paper was accidentally exposed to light. Rather than waste the paper, she experimented with dumping some leftover chemical baths (developer and fixative) onto the paper and preserving the results. In Chemical Reactions, a movie (21) recounting her process, Robertson notes, “I always enjoy trying to make something out of the unwanted thing and go deeper into the disaster.” As with Brandt’s piece, Robertson’s photographic print proved rewarding from several perspectives: as a target for See-Think-Wonder, as an introduction to the enormous flexibility of photochemical techniques (which would become a theme in the second half of the term), and as an instance of the creative process in action. Moving through the semester, both the ODIP and See-Think-Wonder exercises became useful reference points within this interdisciplinary course.

Chemistry-Related Applications of Visual Art Techniques In Spring 2017, both of these observational techniques were revisited in chemistry-specific contexts, later in the semester. Using ODIP with Structural Models of Ionic and Molecular Compounds The ODIP technique was used to introduce students to concepts and notation related to chemical structures. In Spring 2017, students were exploring the chemistry of pigments and paints by Week 6. They had run simple precipitation reactions to synthesize malachite (22) and school bus yellow (6) pigments, and they had likewise explored commercially-available pigments. They had made and used a variety of binders, including egg tempera, casein, Gum Arabic, and linseed oil; by mixing the pigments and the binders, they were able to generate several different paints (6). Students had been introduced to the appearance and properties of a variety of materials (and thus chemical compounds), even while they may not have considered the composition of these materials. Moreover, they had seen that pigments and binders behaved inherently differently: noting that compounds used as pigments tended to be brightly-colored solids, while compounds used as binders tended to be sticky, colorless (or pale) liquids. Following these experiments, students considered in lecture why these materials look and act so differently from one another, starting from a general observation of models of ionic and molecular compounds via the ODIP technique. In considering this focus question, they explored a central theme of chemistry, the link between particulate-level chemical structures and macroscopic-level chemical behaviors (23). Students were prompted to recall the steps of ODIP and asked to describe one of two structural models “to someone who can’t see it,” directly echoing the CMA facilitator’s instructions from a few weeks prior. The two models were NaCl and C6H12O6 (glucose), thus illustrating both an ionic compound and a molecule, standing in for a pigment and a binder, respectively. No introductory information 104

was provided beyond the reminder of the ODIP routine. Students were asked to work in groups of three to five and to record their observations and descriptions as fully as possible on an in-class worksheet. Participation was immediately more spontaneous and free-ranging than in any other class sessions in which chemistry problems or discussion questions had been assigned. Several interesting comments emerged from the initial conversations, as recorded in Table 2.

Table 2. Descriptive Comments Recorded by Students Regarding the Appearance of Ionic and Molecular Compounds Descriptions of Compound 1 (NaCl)

Descriptions of Compound 2 (C6H12O6)

Regular pattern Clear and blue spheres Compact, repetitive Symmetrical Predictable

Hexagonal shape in center Red, black, and white colors Extensions from corners Spread out/sprawling More confusing

After students reported their initial responses, they worked through a series of questions building on these observations and descriptions. Namely, students were reminded of the differences they had seen in their lab experiments on pigments and binders. They were told that the two models were chosen because one represented the type of compound found in a pigment, while the other represented the type of compound found in a binder. Students were provided with the chemical formulas corresponding to the two models and asked to determine which model was which: “If we know that one model represents NaCl and the other represents C6H12O6, how can we use our observations and descriptions to determine which model is which?” Discussion again was constructive: fairly quickly, the idea of “how many different colors in each model” emerged as the most useful identifier: only two for NaCl, but three for C6H12O6. Once that connection was made, another set of guided questions was provided to lead the discussion back to the key theme: the differences at the particulate level between the compounds seen in pigments and binders, as well as the more general idea that chemical structure informs chemical behavior (23). The concept of the empirical formula was reintroduced, as was its utility for ionic compounds: students were reminded of what they already knew about names and formulas of ionic compounds, and they were shown several different models of NaCl, all with the same formula. The proportion between the cation and anion was emphasized as the most useful piece of information. Likewise, the molecular formula was introduced for C6H12O6. Students were shown models of glucose (C6H12O6) and formaldehyde (CH2O), along with their empirical and molecular formulas. The different shapes of the two molecules were acknowledged along with their identical empirical formulas, and the idea that structure impacts how 105

a compound reacts was reiterated. The molecular formula was thus identified as more useful for a molecule, as it provides more information on the actual composition of the compound in question. Two difficulties with the exercise deserve mention. First, to keep this activity feasible within the scope of the class, the “answer” to the focus question was perfunctory: as discussed in class, pigments and binders look and act differently at room temperature because they are composed of fundamentally different types of compounds, and these different compositions are acknowledged via different rules for the compounds’ chemical formulas. Algorithmic questions likely to show up on a quiz or exam-- classifying a compound as ionic or molecular; identifying a formula as empirical or molecular-- were clearly spelled out at the close of the activity. (The interested student was referred to the textbook (9) and other resources posted on the course website for more information on intermolecular forces, differences in bonding, and interactions of chemical compounds with electromagnetic radiation.) Second, it was not possible to draw a direct parallel to all four of the ODIP steps; only the “observe” and “describe” steps of ODIP were directly referenced in the initial examinations of the models. The words “interpret” and “prove” were deliberately omitted in the follow-up questions, given the semantic differences in how these terms would be interpreted in a chemistry-specific context. However, even with these caveats, the exercise provided an introduction to the central concept that materials’ chemical compositions impact their physical and chemical properties. Moreover, student engagement was spontaneous and enthusiastic with respect to observing and describing the two structural models. The ODIP technique had already been established as a low-stakes framework in which no wrong answers were possible: this led to a high degree of participation and interest (especially notable given the relatively dry nature of classifying compounds and writing chemical formulas!).

Using See-Think-Wonder To Design an Independent Experiment The observational technique of See-Think-Wonder was likewise revisited later in the class as an exercise inviting students to develop their own photochemistry experiments. Another major course topic involves photochemistry and photography; in 2017, this unit was covered in three weeks. In the first week, students examined the chemistry behind calotypes in detail, preparing and using silver salted prints by painting ammonium chloride and silver nitrate solutions onto watercolor paper (6). They also used commercially-available Sun Art paper (24) as an introduction to cyanotype chemistry. Lecture supplemented lab with a discussion of the underlying chemistry and historical context of both methods, as well as daguerreotypes (25). In the second week, students revisited the work of Matthew Brandt and Mariah Robertson and generally recalled the ODIP and See-Think-Wonder techniques. They were asked what they remembered and what they noticed now in revisiting Bubble Gum Number 1 and the pieces highlighted in Chemical Reactions. 106

The See-Think-Wonder technique was then adapted with respect to the initial prints made in the photography lab. Students had several minutes to consider their initial photochemical prints from the first week’s experiment. These prints had a wide variety of appearances based both on length of exposure to sunlight (cyanotypes) and the diligence with which students sensitized their photochemical paper (calotypes). Having “seen” and “thought” about these preliminary prints, students were then invited to “wonder”-- to develop an independent experiment using the photochemical techniques they had learned. Some sample questions were provided to spark interest and model the feasible scope of the experiments; these were based in part on previous experiments done in the class and in part on the creative questions and techniques explored in Brandt’s and Robertson’s works: • • • •

What are the effects of washing the prints in weak acids or bases? What do you see when using different types of stencils/materials to generate the negative images? What happens if a print is washed in Kool-Aid before the final water rinse? How long would it take to generate a positive image on the photochemical paper, using a film negative?

Students were invited to develop their own questions and rose to the occasion. Some of their proposed questions included: •

• •

What happens if we add stencils one at a time to the print, at varying times during the exposure? Are the effects different with a calotype versus a cyanotype? Can we use construction paper to generate a calotype, rather than watercolor paper? What effects are seen from reacting prints for different amounts of time?

As part of the same exercise, students also discussed their needs for the following lab session in terms of materials needed, a tentative procedural plan, and safety concerns. Finally, they turned in an outline for comments from the instructor: this provided a chance to catch any dangerous or impractical procedures ahead of time, as well as an opportunity to refine the questions as needed. At the next class meeting, in the third and final week of the photography unit, these plans were returned with any comments or concerns highlighted. After a brief discussion of general safety concerns and lab etiquette, students explored their “wonder” question in the lab. Students participated enthusiastically and saw a wide range of results. In reporting their work, they were asked to outline their question, their procedure, and their results. They highlighted any experimental difficulties and identified what their next question would be, if they continued with another round of See-Think-Wonder. In completing lab reports, students were also asked to recall the steps of ODIP and See-Think-Wonder, as well as to choose the technique that they saw as more comparable to the scientific method and to 107

support their answer. Finally, in the following class period, students explained their experiments and findings to one another. As with the ODIP exercise, engagement was notable: students took ownership of their questions and planned out their experiments well. This exercise also reflected a high degree of inquiry: students developed both the questions of interest and the techniques they would use to explore those questions (26), albeit within a narrowly-defined window of interest. A few drawbacks from Spring 2017 are noted: this activity did require more instructor time and effort (in terms of feedback, reagent preparation, and lab management) than did a typical lab day, given the wide number of experiments ongoing. Moreover, as with ODIP, the parallels between the original thinking routine and the follow-up exercise are not exact: here, students were using See-Think-Wonder to consider the chemical principles behind their prints, rather than the images themselves. That being said, student responses to this exercise were uniformly positive and reflected increased interest and investment in an individual, open-ended research question. As with the ODIP follow-up, the reference back to an established thinking routine provided a low-stakes, familiar introduction to a more chemistry-specific activity.

Other Visual Art Techniques and Resources The ODIP and See-Think-Wonder routines are flexible; variations on these techniques have been incorporated into the INST classroom over the past several years, depending on class enrollment. Two such variations are summarized below. ODIP in a Class with STEM Students The ODIP exercise described above has been most successful as an introduction to chemical structures when the class consists primarily of non-science majors. Interestingly, it appears challenging for students who have taken college chemistry courses to separate the ODIP approach from what they already know to be a textbook answer, with respect to classifying ionic and molecular compounds. That is, rather than describe the appearance of the models, students with previous chemistry coursework often explain the difference between the models by jumping to the guidelines for classifying ionic and molecular compounds: NaCl is ionic because it consists of a metal element and a non-metal element; C6H12O6 is molecular because it consists of only non-metal elements. Since the size of this class is relatively small (24 students), the use of ODIP can be tailored to the target audience. Thus, in years when the class as a whole has had more experience with interpreting chemical formulas and structures, the ODIP follow-up exercise is different. In lecture, students are reminded of molecular formulas and skeletal drawings as multiple representations of the same compound. In a lab period, students are further encouraged to explore a wider variety of representations (27) of the molecule camphor: the empirical and molecular formulas; a condensed structural formula; a 2-D skeletal (line-bond) 108

formula; and a 3-D skeletal (line-bond) formula. Via computational software, they also observe several display models, including wire-frame, ball-and-stick, and space-filling. In their observations and descriptions, they are asked to consider which representations they find most useful and why. In so doing, they are still “observing” and “describing” to an extent, and they are using evidence to support their conclusions. This activity allows science students to focus on the art/representation inherent in chemistry (27–29) (whereas the original exercise encouraged non-majors to focus on the chemistry principles underlying artistic techniques); it was inspired by an essay by Roald Hoffmann and Pierre Laszlo (27), in which they state, “The writing of a structure is not innocent. It is ideology-laden.” Students with more experience in writing and interpreting these structures and formulas are invited to consider them more intentionally.

Introductory Reading on Science and Art. Likewise, the steps of the See-Think-Wonder technique, as well as the general processes of the artist and the scientist, have occasionally been foreshadowed via a brief reading (30) in which an unlikely alliance between artist Robert Irwin and NASA scientist Ed Wortz is described. (When used, this reading has been provided to students in advance of the CMA visit.) Irwin comments extensively on this collaboration and on the general relationship between art and science. He compares the processes of the artist and the scientist, pointing out that both practitioners start from a hypothesis and employ trial-and-error in their work; he also contrasts the two, noting that the scientist carefully documents the research process in a laboratory notebook, whereas the artist might not keep a similar record (30). Because both similarities and differences are clearly presented in this brief excerpt, students generally respond strongly to one view or the other when asked to write a brief response. This exercise can thus be used to prompt discussion at the CMA visit, and it can also become a familiar reference point throughout the semester.

Conclusion This chapter has described two observational routines commonly used with visual artwork, the implementation of these techniques into a chemistry and art course via collaboration with the Columbus Museum of Art, and subsequent references back to these routines in chemistry-specific activities. These visual art strategies have facilitated accessible introductions to chemical structures and experimental design. Such strategies are particularly well-suited to an interdisciplinary general education course in which students are encouraged to explore the processes of both the artist and the scientist: emphasizing curiosity, experimentation, and creativity as beneficial, regardless of post-graduation path. 109

Acknowledgments The author would like to thank the staff of the Columbus Museum of Art, past and present, for their continuing support of this course. In particular, Jessimi Jones, Rachel Trinkley, and Jen Lehe have visited Otterbein University to facilitate the activities described in this chapter over the past five years. Their generosity with their time and expertise has been remarkable and is truly appreciated.

References Greenberg, B. R.; Patterson, D. Art in Chemistry, Chemistry in Art; Teacher Ideas Press: Westport, CT, 2008. 2. Taft, W. S.; Mayer, J. W. The Science of Paintings; Springer: New York, 2000. 3. Kafetzopoulus, C.; Spyrellis, N.; Lymperopoulou-Karaliota, A. The Chemistry of Art and the Art of Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2006, 83, 1484–1488. 4. Danipog, D. L.; Ferido, M. B. Using Art-Based Chemistry Activities To Improve Students’ Conceptual Understanding in Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 1610–1615. 5. Integrative Studies at Otterbein: Reinvigorating a Signature Program for a Global Century. (accessed 10 March 2017). 6. Hill, P.; Simon, D.; Uffelman, E. Chemistry and Art: Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops, and Communities of Scholars; National Science Foundation, 2010. 7. Hill, P.; Simon, D. Developing a community of science and art scholars. In Collaborative Endeavors in the Chemical Analysis of Art and Cultural Heritage Materials; Lang, P. L., Armitage, R. A., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 1103; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2012; pp 219−229. 8. Uffelman, E. S. The Emergence and Spread of “Chemistry in Art” Undergraduate Courses in United States Universities. In Proceedings of International Council of Museums Conservation Committee Triennial 16th Conference; Lisbon, Portugal, September 19−23, 2011; Criterio: Lisbon, Portugal, 2011; Paper 312; pp 1−8. 9. Hill, P. The Molecular Basis of Color and Form: Chemistry in Art; Millersville University: Millersville, PA, 2002. 10. Coldiron, M. “Cultivating Creativity: The Columbus Museum of Art and the Influence of Education on Museum Operation.” Electronic Thesis. Ohio State University, 2015. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. pg_10?0::NO:10:P10_ACCESSION_NUM:osu1429176568 (accessed 29 Mar 2017). 11. Columbus Museum of Art: Creativity Resources. http:// (accessed 1 March 2017). 1.


12. Jacques, A.; Trinkley, R.; Stone, L.; Tang, R.; Hudson, W. A.; Khandelwal, S. Art of Analysis: A cooperative program between a museum and medicine. Journal for Learning through the Arts 2012, 8, 1–10. 13. Harvard Project Zero. See Think Wonder Routine. 03_ThinkingRoutines/03c_Core_routines/SeeThinkWonder/SeeThink Wonder_Routine.html (accessed 1 March 2017). 14. Housen, A.; Yenawine, P. Visual Thinking Strategies Curriculum. (accessed 29 March 2017). 15. Reilly, J. M.; Ring, J.; Duke, L. Visual Thinking Strategies: A New Role for Art in Medical Education. Lit. Arts Med. Educ. 2005, 37, 250–252. 16. Bell, L. T. O.; Evans, D. J. R. Art, anatomy, and medicine: Is there a place for art in medical education? Anat. Sci. Educ. 2014, 7, 370–378. 17. Brandt, M. Bubble Gum Number 1. Photograph of Vernal Falls in Yosemite, printed with various edible ingredients in a CMYK or RGB color model. (accessed 1 March 2017). 18. Matthew Brandt on PLAY [Video File]. YouTube, 12 July 2016. https:// (accessed 9 February 2017). 19. Brandt, M. Matthew Brandt: Sticky/Dusty/Wet. Columbus Museum of Art: Columbus, 2013. 20. Robertson, M. 10, 2014. Unique chemical treatment on RA-4 paper; 76x73 inches. (accessed 5 March 2017). 21. Mariah Robertson’s Chemical Reactions | ART21 “New York Close Up” [Video File]. YouTube, October 17, 2014. watch?v=Dv17mnCyq0A (accessed 16 March 2017). 22. Gaquere-Parker, A. C.; Doles, N. A.; Parker, C. D. Chemistry and Art in a Bag: An Easy-To-Implement Outreach Activity. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 152–153. 23. Gabel, D.; Samuel, J. V.; Hunn, D. The particulate nature of matter. J. Chem. Educ. 1987, 64, 695–697. 24. Sun Art Paper. (accessed 29 March 2017). 25. Sattar, S. The Chemistry of Photography: Still a Terrific Laboratory Course for Nonscience Majors. J. Chem. Educ. 2017, 94, 183–189. 26. Fay, M. E.; Grove, N. P.; Towns, M. H.; Lowery-Bretz, S. A Rubric to Characterize Inquiry in the Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 2007, 8, 212–219. 27. Hoffmann, R.; Laszlo, P. Representation in Chemistry. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. Engl. 1991, 30, 1–16. 28. Harrison, K.; Bowen, J. P.; Bowen, A. M. Electronic visualisation in chemistry: from alchemy to art. In Electronic Visualisation and the Arts. London, July 2013; Ng, K., Bowen, J. P., McDaid, S., Eds.; British Computer Society, Electronic Workshops in Computing: London, 2013; pp 267−274. (accessed 15 March 2017). 111

29. Cody, K.; Callam, C. S. Aesthetics of chemistry: studies towards the interpretation and communication of chemical structure. Presented at The Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum: Columbus, Ohio, May 2012. 30. Weschler, L. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin; University of California Press: Berkeley, 2008; pp 137−138.


Chapter 7

Chemistry Infographics: Experimenting with Creativity and Information Literacy Deborah Gale Mitchell,*,1 Julie A. Morris,2 Joseph M. Meredith,3 and Naomi Bishop4 1Department

of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Denver, 2190 E Iliff Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80208, United States 2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Denver, 2190 E Iliff Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80208, United States 3Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, Idaho 83725, United States 4Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, 1001 S Knoles Drive, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Incorporating creative assignments and information literacy practice directly into the science curriculum has many benefits. These types of assignments can improve student perception of the relevance of science information literacy, increase overall engagement in general science curricula, and improve learning outcomes overall. In this project, students in a sophomore analytical chemistry course were instructed to create infographics explaining a chemical reaction of their choice to a general audience. The primary goals for this assignment were to provide students an opportunity to practice information literacy, creativity, and communication skills and to improve their understanding of specific chemistry content. A variety of instruction and activities were designed to help students reach these goals. We are still exploring methods of assessment, which have so far included both peer and instructor review of the infographic using a rubric, as well as more traditional assessments covering chemistry content and basic information literacy skills. Although our results thus far are mainly qualitative, we have observed that the majority of students demonstrate basic competency in information literacy © 2017 American Chemical Society

and communication skills at the end of this assignment, and we have some evidence of increased engagement overall. We were also very interested to observe that many of the students who produced outstanding infographics were not top performers on traditional assessments like summative exams. This outcome suggests that this type of assignment might disproportionately benefit students that struggle with more traditional instruction and assessment methods, and we plan to explore this possibility more formally in future iterations of this assignment.

Introduction Motivation Science courses at all levels, but particularly introductory courses, frequently focus too heavily on memorizing innumerable facts and often fail to instill a basic understanding of the philosophy and process of science (1). This misplaced focus often leads students to incorrectly think that science literacy is memorizing facts rather than understanding the context and applications of those facts. As a result, many students have difficulty seeing the value of scientific thinking in their daily lives and fail to appreciate the critical relationship between information, science, and society (2, 3). Information literacy is the ability to find, evaluate, and apply information, which is a critical skill in the practice of science, as well as everyday life (4). Additionally, the scientific method is a creative process, and the ability to think creatively is another important skill that should be practiced. Consequently, incorporating creative assignments and information literacy directly into the science curriculum has many benefits. These types of assignments can also improve student perception of the relevance of science information literacy, increase overall engagement in general science curricula, and improve learning outcomes (5). Students need opportunities to engage with authentic, meaningful, and creative information literacy and critical thinking assignments and learning activities, including co-curricular activities. Because infographics communicate information through visual art, we decided this assignment would help our students meet multiple learning outcomes, including information literacy and practicing creativity. Assignment Overview Working collaboratively with the science librarian, we developed an infographic project to teach students how to search literature effectively and communicate complex scientific topics to a broad audience. This assignment also required students to use their artistic imagination to create an infographic that would visually communicate these topics. This project was incorporated into sophomore-level chemistry courses. Working in groups of two, students were asked to create a 20”x30” digital infographic explaining a chemical reaction or chemical process with a general audience in mind. Students chose topics like “The 114

Chemistry in Handwarmers” and “Caramelization Chemistry.” Students were also asked to include information on the kinetics and equilibria of the chemical process chosen. The specifics of this assignment are outlined in a later section.

Information Literacy The ability to critically evaluate information and media is an essential skill in our rapidly-changing global society. Information literacy and critical thinking skills contribute to academic achievement, engaged citizenship, and continued learning after graduation. It is becoming increasingly clear that acquiring and practicing these skills should be an integral part of students’ learning throughout their entire academic careers (6, 7). The Association of College and Research Libraries recently created a new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education in an effort to recognize the evolving missions of higher education and the rapidly-changing environments in which information is acquired and distributed (4). The new framework recognizes that students are beginning to have a greater role in the entire information/research cycle, from knowledge creation through evaluation and dissemination. Information literacy is traditionally defined as a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and the ability to find, evaluate, and communicate high-quality information. More recently, the definition of information literacy has been updated by the Association of College and Research Libraries. This new definition encompasses the older definition but also includes the understanding of how information is produced and valued, that information is evolving, and the importance of participating ethically in communities of learning. Information literacy skills require practice within as well as outside the classroom. There is evidence that integrating information literacy instruction within disciplines is more effective than teaching information literacy separately (8, 9). Although this is still not widely practiced, it is becoming more common (10). We cannot overstate the benefits of collaborations between science instructors and librarians. In the science classroom, we have questions to be answered and information to be found. In the science classroom, we can provide an authentic context for students to learn more about a specific discipline like chemistry. However, when students need information beyond our expertise, librarians have the tools and knowledge to find appropriate and quality information. Librarians can help us teach the information literacy skills that will be invaluable to students regardless of their path or profession. Because information is rapidly evolving, we as scientists and instructors are not always aware of the new tools and strategies available. Librarians are experts in the field of information science. They are aware of the best strategies for finding, evaluating, and communicating information. Faculty and librarians can assess student learning and collaborate with each other to improve teaching and learning outcomes. 115

Creativity One common misconception is that science is a rigid analytical process that does not involve creativity (11). Critical steps in the scientific process include making observations, asking questions, formulating hypotheses, and designing experiments to test those hypotheses. All of these steps require imaginative skills. Perhaps the most creative step of the scientific method is the ability to develop general theories and models consistent with data obtained. Scientists recognize the importance of creative skills, but they are often not given appropriate focus in science curricula because it is challenging to teach and assess. Just as information literacy should be incorporated into every course, we also believe that creative assignments should be incorporated in the science curriculum whenever possible to allow students to practice these necessary skills in a scientific context. Both scientific discovery and art are the result of human creativity. Chemistry is a branch of science that studies the properties of matter, specifically on the molecular level. Many types of visual art—photography, painting, sculpting—require an understanding of the properties of the matter/media used to create art. Thus, a chemical understanding of the materials used to create art can enhance science. But just as chemistry is essential to artists, art is also essential to chemists. Chemistry is an abstract science; without high-powered microscopes, most molecules cannot be visualized. Chemists use models (often visual models) to make predictions about chemical properties. There are many types of models in chemistry, each with benefits and limitations. This includes Lewis dot structures, molecular orbital diagrams, and many others. These models often require students to either draw or interpret visual depictions of the electronic structure of atoms and molecules. These drawings require practice and skill—not unlike the skills that a student would develop in any other illustration class—to accurately represent and communicate information. Because of the necessity of models, there is inherently an artistic side to chemistry. The conceptual nature of fundamental chemical principles often acts as a barrier to student engagement. Students struggle to see the applications of chemical principles in their everyday lives. One way that chemistry instructors increase engagement is by incorporating creative and interdisciplinary assignments into courses (12). Art is frequently used to enrich curriculum because it is believed to foster learning. According to Young (13), science and the fine arts share several qualities, especially imagination and critical thinking. Because art enhances imagination and critical thinking, it can be a useful tool for increasing overall engagement in chemistry. Using the fine arts in the chemistry classroom has gained popularity over the last couple decades. Two recent examples of enhancing engagement in the chemistry classroom are: teaching the history of chemistry through the lens of opera (14) and using Shakespearean plays to reinforce concepts in instrumental analysis (15). Professors can help students overcome the knowledge gap and enhance science literacy instruction by incorporating creative assignments into science courses.


Assignment Details Learning Outcomes For this assignment, our primary objectives were to use a creative project to increase engagement and conceptual understanding and to ultimately improve students’ information literacy and science communication skills. The specific learning outcomes for this assignment were divided into three areas: information literacy, creativity and communication, and chemistry content (outlined below). A variety of instruction and activities were designed to help students reach these outcomes.

Information Literacy Students should be able to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

determine the extent of information needed access the information needed through a variety of databases, such as Scifinder, Web of Science, and Google Scholar evaluate information and sources critically use information literacy to accomplish a specific purpose access and use information ethically and legally

Creativity and Communication Students should be able to: 1. 2.

create visual aids and/or analogies in a thoughtful way to help the general audience understand the chemistry associated with their topic use software to lay out information using colors and fonts that enhance the topic and make the presentation readable, interesting, and easy to follow

Chemistry Content Students should be able to: 1. 2.

communicate content accurately demonstrate an enhanced understanding of the course material: kinetics and thermodynamics of chemical reactions


Assignment Description Working in groups of two, students were asked to create a 20”x30” digital infographic explaining a chemical reaction or chemical process with a general audience in mind. Students were also asked to include information on the kinetics and equilibria of the chosen chemical process. In this case, students were asked to create this infographic from “scratch” and were not allowed to use an infographic design application (such as Piktochart,; however, we recommended Compound Interest (16) as inspiration for their infographics.

Specific Assignment Requirements: 1.

2. 3. 4.


Create an infographic incorporating an accurate explanation of a chemical process (including chemical equilibria and kinetics) for a general audience. Create at least four original images and/or data visualizations to help describe the topic. Cite at least three primary and two secondary sources (using ACS style), and include these as part of the text in the infographic. Produce an annotated bibliography (using ACS style) including a brief description of the source following each citation. This description should include the type of source (primary v. secondary); the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source; and what information from the source was used to produce the infographic. Produce a brief description of each image used in the infographic and explicitly state which images are original and which are borrowed from other sources. All borrowed images must have an open access or creative commons license and be cited properly.

Peer Review: A peer review was added during the second administration of this assignment. Students were asked to use the same rubric that we used in the final assessment of their infographics and supporting documents. They were instructed to pay special attention to the types of sources and images used in the infographics and the way that those sources and images were cited. The goals of the peer-review were (1) to give the students the opportunity to analyze each other’s sources and continue to practice the information literacy skills presented during the information literacy instruction, (2) to provide students the opportunity to practice getting and giving feedback, and (3) to allow students to learn from feedback and improve their infographic.


Assignment Timeline: University of Denver uses a quarter system, and this assignment was given during a typical 10-week session. Students were given the full assignment description and requirements at the end of Week 1 and were required to submit a first-draft at the end of Week 7. They were then given one week to complete a peer review and were asked to revise and resubmit the final draft of their infographic and annotated bibliography by the end of Week 10.

Course Context This assignment was worth ~14% of each student’s final grade, which is the same weight as any one of the four exams administered. Prior to this assignment, students had a varied background with using the library at DU. Most students had not used SciFinder Scholar. We taught library instruction with the assumption that students had used the library before but were not familiar with many databases typically used in chemistry, such as SciFinder Scholar, Web of Science, Knovel, etc. Instruction This sophomore analytical chemistry class met for 50 minutes three times per week, with one 50 min “recitation” session each week. We used the recitation sessions to deliver information literacy, copyright law, and Adobe Illustrator instruction. This chemistry course was a partially-flipped class. Students watched videos outside of class at least once a week to provide more time in class to work through problems. During the Week Two recitation, library staff conducted a workshop that focused on strategies for effectively searching the literature using search tools such as SciFinder, Google Scholar, Knovel, Academic Search Complete, and other library databases. Students were provided instruction on how to find relevant and accurate information, how to properly cite information, the difference between primary and secondary sources, the CRAAP (Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose) Test for evaluating sources (developed by librarians at California State University-Chico) (17), copyright law, and creative commons licenses. During the workshop, students worked in small groups to practice applying the CRAAP Test to evaluate several different types of sources. During a regular class period in Week Three, students received instruction regarding copyright law, including the different types of creative commons licenses. The librarian created a library guide (posted on the University of Denver library webpage) to help students find and evaluate sources throughout the quarter. During Week Three, students attended a workshop with the Digital Media Center at University of Denver to learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator. They were provided instruction on the difference between pixel-based Photoshop and vectorbased Illustrator. They were shown how to make basic patterns and shapes and how to vectorize pixel-based images. Students were also informed of alternative 119

free vector graphics editors like Inkscape. Students were encouraged to use Adobe Illustrator because of the availability at University of Denver, but students were also welcome to use other graphics editors. Throughout the course, students were periodically given examples of ways to communicate to general audience. Students were taught about the importance of limiting or defining jargon and using analogies to help the audience make connections to what they already understand.

Scaffolding Assignments/Activities In an effort to help students manage the multiple components of this assignment and to assist them with beginning a literature search, professors designed a scaffolding of assignments. This scaffolding included assignments on searching literature, evaluating sources, proper use of images (copyright law), and Adobe Illustrator. The first scaffolding assignment focused on guiding the students and giving them opportunities to practice searching and evaluating literature with the CRAAP method. Specifically, students were asked to work with their partner to choose a topic (the same topic that they would be using for their infographic). Once the students had chosen a topic, they were asked to use three separate search strategies to locate information about their topic: a primary scientific database, Google Scholar, and our campus library search engine (DU Compass). For each search strategy, students were asked to record their search terms and the number of search results. Once students had explored the three search strategies, they were asked to choose which search strategy was the best for helping them address their research question. Students then used the CRAAP method to evaluate five websites or sources located using this specific search strategy. Following the instruction on creative commons licenses, fair use, and copyright law, students were given an assignment to practice searching for images that could be used in their infographic and shared publicly. Specifically, students were told to use Flickr: The Commons (18) to search for three images related to their infographic topic/question. Students submitted a Word document including all three images and the appropriate ACS style citation. Students were also asked to describe how they might use the image (How can you use the image in your infographic?) and the type of creative commons license (What limitations are associated with this license?). Specifically, we wanted students to pay attention to whether or not modifications were allowed with the particular image. Students were discouraged from using an image if it had a “no derivatives” creative commons license, since this would prevent them from making any alterations to the image. In a third assignment, students were asked to explore Adobe Illustrator beyond what they had practiced during the workshop. Specifically, students were given the task of making a banner with a title. The goal of this assignment was to give students practice in making shapes and playing with color in Adobe Illustrator. Students were required to submit a PDF of the banner along with any other images they created during the Adobe Illustrator Workshop. 120

Assessment Results and Discussion The goals of our assessment strategies were twofold: 1) to give our students a grade, and 2) to assess the assignments’ ability to help students meet our intended learning outcomes. The infographic and supporting documents were assessed using both a rubric (see Table 1) and a quiz (see Table 2), which are more traditional ways of assessing chemistry content and basic information literacy skills. This project was assessed twice (Winter 2016 & Winter 2017). The results reported below are primarily from the 2017 round of infographics. The rubric was adapted from “Undergraduate Research Presentation Rubric” by Dorothy Mitstifer (19). The rubric assesses the students’ success in meeting the learning outcomes described above. Overall, students performed at least “good” in all of the categories, with some issues specifically with the chemistry content and number of references. About 30% of students did not include a discussion of kinetics in their infographic, and 15% of students did not include a discussion of thermodynamics or kinetics. This was surprising because these concepts were an explicit part of the instruction. Roughly one quarter of the infographic submissions did not have enough primary references. This year, there were no copyright violations, which was a larger issue in the 2016 round of infographics. In 2017, a peer review component was added to the assignment. The peer review assignment served as an indirect assessment of information literacy. By reviewing their classmates’ infographics, students displayed their ability to check and evaluate sources. Students gave feedback on organization, copyright law, and sources. Students were then given the opportunity to resubmit. The addition of the peer review impacted the assignment positively. We observed large contrasts between the quality of the infographic assignments before and after the peer review, particularly in organization of material and preventing any copyright violations. A quiz was also used to assess students’ ability to identify primary and secondary sources as well as their knowledge of databases. This quiz was a low-stakes assessment; students were given 5 points for completion. Students were asked to answer the questions to the best of their knowledge (closed note). This quiz also functioned as a method to gain students’ consent to share their infographics publicly. The questions on the quiz and results to the questions can be seen in Table 2. 85% of students in the 2017 group demonstrated that they could correctly identify a review article as a secondary source. However, when actually creating the infographic, only 75% of students had the correct number of primary sources. Almost all of the students who did not fulfill the three primary source requirement mistook a review article as a primary source. Students assumed that because this source came from a scientific journal that it must be a primary source. This demonstrated that students’ knowledge of primary and secondary sources was greater than their ability to apply that knowledge. This discrepancy between knowledge and application shows us that further instruction on the purpose and identification of review articles should be added to the overall assignment.


Table 1. Rubric Used for Final Assessment and Peer Review 1–0 Unacceptable


5–4 Exemplary– Very good

3–2 Good– Satisfactory


Has a clear focus; organization supports content presented

Focus and organization could be improved

Lacks clear focus; disorganized


Content -Audience

Targets general audience with language and/or analogies

May not define all chemical terms or acronyms. Too much jargon

Presentation is not appropriate for a general audience


Content -Chemistry

Content is specific, informative, and accurate. Includes kinetics and equilibria

Content is not accurate or does not effectively incorporate kinetics/equilibria

Does not give adequate coverage of topic. No mention of equilibria or kinetics


Citations and Copyrights.

Appropriate number of references are incorporated; images comply with copyright law

Primary and secondary references are not incorporated into content; images comply with copyright law

Not enough references OR copyright law is violated


Original Images

At least 4 original images or data visualizations were created; images are high quality and contribute to understanding

At least 4 original images or data visualizations were created, but the connection between content and images is not clear

Fewer than 4 original images were included


Creativity and Polish -Delivery

Presentation is polished, interesting, and easy to follow

Presentation is clear but may not be interesting

Presentation is unclear and boring


Creativity and Polish - Font

The infographic includes appropriate fonts that complement content and make text readable

The fonts chosen seem inappropriate for the topic but are readable

The fonts chosen are not appropriate or are difficult to read



Total__________/90* 100 points.


10 points will be awarded for peer evaluation for a total of


Table 2. Assessment Quiz and Associated Scores Learning Objective


# Correct (2016, n=74)

# Correct (2017, n=59)

Identify primary & secondary sources.

1.) You begin your preliminary research on the Maillard reaction by consulting a Wikipedia article. Is this a primary or secondary source?

73 (99%)

59 (100%)

Identify databases used for literature search

2.) While researching the current advancements on the Maillard reaction, you use SciFinder to search “Maillard Reaction.” What is SciFinder?

70 (95%)

57 (97%)

Distinguish/ Identify between primary & secondary sources (Journal Article)

3.) From the SciFinder search, you find an article analyzing acrylamide (a product of the Maillard reaction): Tareke, E.; et al. Analysis of Acrylamide, a Carcinogen Formed in Heated Foodstuffs. J. Agric. Food Chem.. 2002, 50(17), pg 4998–5006. Is this a primary or secondary source?

73 (99%)

59 (100%)

Distinguish/ Identify between primary & secondary sources(Review Article)

4.) From your SciFinder search, you find an article by John Hodge, that reviews the organic mechanisms for the Maillard reaction. Hodge, J.E.; Dehydrated Foods, Chemistry of Browning Reactions in Model Systems. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 1953 1 (15) pg. 928–943. Is this a primary or secondary source?

50 (68%)

50 (85%)

Distinguish/ Identify between primary & secondary sources

5.) Because you want to replicate the Maillard reaction in your own kitchen, you decide to make bread. You find a recipe in Ree Drummond’s latest cookbook (an original). Is this a primary or secondary source?

65 (88%)

55 (93%)

Distinguish/ Identify between primary & secondary sources

6.) Next, you find a YouTube video that gives a general overview of the Maillard reaction. Is this a primary or secondary source?

72 (97%)

57 (97%)


The infographic and other activities demonstrate evidence that students gained content knowledge surrounding information literacy. Much of our evidence on the benefits of this type of creative assignment is anecdotal, but we are currently exploring ways of moving toward more formal assessments for this assignment. Specifically, anecdotal evidence suggests that this assignment increases engagement, but we did not formally assess engagement. We observed student engagement with the final projects through the display of the infographics on the walls of the library and witnessing students’ excitement for discussing the topics from the creative works. One student expressed gratitude for the assignment. She was grateful that she had the opportunity to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. She expressed that she felt confident enough with this software to add it as a skill when searching for jobs. Another student with Type-2 diabetes researched the chemistry behind blood-glucose test strips. This student demonstrated excitement that she was able to learn more about the chemistry behind the medical device she uses every day. One benefit of using a creative assignment like the infographic is allowing students to experience an alternative way to learn and be assessed besides exams. Many of the students who produced outstanding infographics were not top performers on traditional assessments like summative exams. This outcome suggests that this type of assignment might benefit students that struggle with more traditional instruction and assessment methods, and we plan to explore this possibility more formally in future iterations of this assignment.

Student Work and Installation The most impressive results of this assignment were the infographics that were produced by students. The development of this assignment was partially funded by an internal grant through the library at DU called The Moreland Grant. This particular grant was created to motivate instructors to incorporate information literacy assignments into major-specific courses. Professors awarded this grant were required to present the results of our work to the librarians at DU. After presenting the results to the librarians, Special Collections at DU asked to create an installation of the students’ work (see Figure 1). The librarians at DU wanted to display the infographics in the library because they are a unique example of an artistic assignment that engages students and also builds information literacy skills. Below are some examples of infographics created by students in both the 2016 and 2017 Winter Quarter (see Figures 2-5). More examples can be seen on Twitter under the hashtag #DUChemInfo ( All images are shared with permission from students.


Figure 1. Installation of chemistry infographics located in the upper floor of the library at University of Denver. (Photo Courtesy of Deborah Gale Mitchell).


Figure 2. Bioluminescence by Amber Varela (major: Biology; minor: Chemistry) and Christine Krentz (majors: Chemistry & Biology; minor: Philosophy), Winter 2016.


Figure 3. Chemistry of Handwarmers by Audrey Adler (major: Biology, minors: Spanish, Chemistry) and Sonja Radosevic (major: Biology, minors: psychology, chemistry), Winter 2016.


Figure 4. The Chemistry of Acid Rain by Cameron Robertson (major: Biochemistry) and Kayla Yutrzenka (major: Biology, minor: Chemistry), Winter 2017.


Figure 5. Honey by Hannah Bradford (major: Biology, minors: Chemistry and Mathematics) and Jakob Holtzmann (major: Biology, minors: Chemistry and Business Administration), Winter 2017.

Future Work For future years, we hope to continue to develop the instruction, assessment, and application of this assignment. When designing this assignment, we did not explicitly design critical thinking learning outcomes into the instruction or assessment. However, our assignment did incorporate two aspects of the AACU critical thinking rubric, including: 1.) explanation of issues and 2.) selecting information to investigate a conclusion. We plan to develop further assessment to gauge student perception of the value of this assignment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students see the benefit of this assignment, but no overall assessment of student perceptions was collected. This type of information could help us improve the instruction and delivery of the assignment. One idea that we are working on would create more direct connections between chemistry major courses and our general education courses for non-science majors. Our non-major science courses at University of Denver include a variety of chemistry topics. The assignment for chemistry majors could be directed to help with the specific purpose of helping non-majors understand topics like climate change, ozone pollution, or ocean acidification. By building this connection, we would create an authentic audience of peers for the chemistry majors, and the non-major students could then provide feedback to help improve the infographics. 129

Conclusions Through this assignment, science professors and librarians at University of Denver witnessed the benefits of using a creative infographic assignment as a conduit to teach information literacy and chemistry content. This infographic assignment built science information literacy skills, improved overall engagement, and improved learning outcomes overall. The construction of this assignment also benefited faculty members that were working in an interdisciplinary team to generate a positive experience for students. This collaboration—between faculty in different departments along with a science librarian—was successful. This variety of contributors brought different perspectives on how to make the scaffolding assignments effective to build information literacy skills for students. This team approach made the instruction in both the chemistry and information literacy more effective. Our science librarian also made herself incredibly accessible to students who had questions about searching for information and evaluating sources. Because the scientific method is a creative process, it is important to incorporate innovative assignments into the chemistry curricula at all levels. It is also vital that students learn how to find and evaluate information. These types of assignments are critical for enhancing the education of the next generation of scientists.

Acknowledgments The authors wish to thank Ty Doctor and Tommy Nagel from the University of Denver Digital Media Center for providing Adobe Illustrator workshops for our students. We would also like to thank J. Alex Huffman, Ph.D. for his early contributions to this project. Thank you to Virginia Pitts, Ph.D. and Christina Paguyo for support when developing the rubric and assessment used in this project. Extra special thanks to Amber Varela, Christine Krentz, Audrey Adler, Sonja Radosevic, Cameron Robertson, Kayla Yutrzenk, Hannah Bradford, and Jakob Holtzaman for the beautiful work that they created as students for this assignment.

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Bruce, C. Information Literacy as a Catalyst for Educational Change. A Background Paper. In Proceedings “Lifelong Learning: Whose responsibility and what is your contribution?” Danaher, P. A, Eds.; The 3rd International Lifelong Learning Conference, Yeppoon, Queensland, 2004; pp 8−19. Rockman, I. Integrating Information Literacy Into the Learning Outcomes of Academic Disciplines. Coll. Res. Libr. 2003, 64 (9), 612–615. Johnston, B.; Webber, S. Information Literacy in Higher Education: A Review and Case Study. Stud. High. Educ. 2003, 28 (3), 335–352. Macklin, A. S.; Culp, F. B. Successful strategies for integrating information literacy into the curriculum. In Competencies for science librarians; Stern, D., Ed.; Routledge: New York, 2009; pp 45−61. Lindsay, E. B. A collaborative approach to information literacy in the freshmen seminar. AEQ. 2003, 23–28. Scaramozzino, J. M. Integrating STEM Information Competencies into an Undergraduate Curriculum. J. Libr. Adm. 2010, 50, 315–333. McComas, W. F. The principal elements of the nature of science: dispelling the myths. In The nature of science in science education. Rationales and strategies; McComas, W. F., Ed.; Kluwer Academic: Dordrecht, 2002; pp 53–70. Danipog, D. L.; Ferido, M. B. Using art-based chemistry activities to improve students’ conceptual understanding in chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 1610. Young, J. A. Science and the fine arts. J. Chem. Educ. 1981, 58, 329–330. Andre, J. P. Viewing Scenes of the History of Chemistry through the Opera Glass. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 66–73. Kloepper, K. D. Bringing in the Bard: Shakespearean Plays as Context for Instrumental Analysis Projects. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 79. Brunning, A. Compound Interest. (accessed March 1, 2016). California State University at Chico librarians. Evaluating Information: Applying the CRAAP Test. eval_websites.pdf (accessed January 5, 2016). Flickr: The Commons; (accessed June 13, 2017). Mitstifer, D. Undergraduate Research Presentation Rubric. http:// (accessed March 1, 2015).


Chapter 8

Incorporating Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Into the Chemistry Curriculum: Two Practitioners’ Experiences Christen Strollo*,1 and Kathryn L. Davis2 1Chemistry

Department, College of Saint Benedict|Saint John’s University, Ardolf Science Center, 37 South College Avenue, St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374, United States 2Chemistry Department, Manchester University, 604 E. College Avenue, North Manchester, Indiana 46962, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Learning through authentic experience using multiple modes of inquiry is a hallmark of liberal arts education. This approach is reflected in recent improvements in chemistry curricula, which show a shift to more student-centered, problem-based approaches in order to promote student engagement. This chapter describes the implementation of two variants on problem-based learning (PBL) at two different liberal arts institutions, with application to both lower-division and upper-division chemistry courses. By situating course material within the context of real-world science work, the PBL approach helps students to build interdisciplinary connections and give them direct engagement with the scientific method.

Introduction In January 2016, the ACS Committee on Professional Training (ACS CPT) issued the “Excellent Undergraduate Chemistry Programs” supplement to summarize the most recent program guidelines (1). According to that document, “An excellent chemistry program is an integrated, broad-based, challenging chemical experience designed to provide an undergraduate with the intellectual, experimental, and interactive skills to participate effectively in the chemical sciences enterprise.” The curriculum of such a program will “instill in the © 2017 American Chemical Society

student an appreciation of chemistry in science and society from a molecular perspective;” and faculty will use pedagogical techniques that “generate an integrative experience in which students learn to apply their knowledge in new contexts and can seamlessly transition to postgraduate activities.” Liberal arts programs, with their focus on holistic education through multidisciplinary coursework and interdisciplinary integration, have a lot to offer in informing effective approaches to chemical education under the new guidelines. In that spirit, it is useful to give examples of some of the variety of pedagogical techniques and assignments that chemistry faculty have used to enhance and to reinforce interdisciplinary connections, integrative experiences, and professional development within the chemistry curriculum. Hodges successfully employed a guided reading and discussion exercise in a biochemistry course to increase knowledge on current topics and improve skills for lifelong learning (2). More recently, Bennett and Taubman incorporated an exercise to facilitate critical reading of the chemical literature in a third-year course to improve reading comprehension (3). Greco (4) and Miller and Chengelis Czegan (5) have designed assignments to promote science literacy as a problem-solving skill for majors and non-majors in a liberal arts setting. Some laboratory courses incorporate professional skills into lab work by requiring students to write business cover letters and memos that accompany their science analyses (6, 7). Other faculty use long-form techniques, such as a problem-based learning (PBL) approach, to achieve the above objectives. Born of constructivist learning theories, PBL has its formal roots in medical education. Although there are many different variations on PBL, Savery identifies that the common theme among all of them is the use of small student groups to investigate open-ended problems, similar to those that they might one day encounter outside of the classroom (8). Savery’s review is a useful survey of the basic terminology and variations of PBL; a longer work by Savin-Baden and Howell provides additional background on the underlying conceptual frameworks for PBL, as well as problem design, the role of teamwork, and assessment (9). PBL is common in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory, where instructors devote parts of courses or entire courses to sustained inquiry into a single, ill-defined problem, such as environmental quality issues (6, 10–13), organic synthesis (14, 15), or spectroscopic analysis (16–18). In some cases, faculty leverage PBL for metacognitive purposes, such as when Clougherty and Wells require instrumental analysis students to develop their own lab activity (19). PBL is somewhat less common in chemistry lecture courses, although it is by no means unused. Cannon and Krow used contemporary chemical literature on complex natural products as the basis for a PBL course in advanced organic synthesis (20). Several instructors have used PBL approaches in biochemistry courses (21, 22). Belt et al. used the principles of project-based learning to develop case studies for analytical chemistry (23). PBL has also been deployed in a graduate-level environmental chemistry course by Jansson et al. (24) There are benefits, both demonstrated and perceived, to problem-based approaches. Spencer finds that problem-based pedagogy is the best way for students to learn and be able to translate those skills to real world problems (24). Sandi-Urena and coworkers have presented qualitative and quantitative 134

data suggesting that the PBL approach leads to improved metacognition and problem-solving skills in first-year general chemistry students, suggesting that this approach improves upon traditional, “cookbook” laboratory pedagogy (26, 27). Additionally, from a liberal arts perspective, the PBL approach, with its focus on learning through authentic experience, should help students to build interdisciplinary connections and give them direct engagement with the scientific method. Lastly, by situating lab work within the context of doing real science, PBL should help students to develop the highly important quality of professional identification, which Graham and coworkers identified as a main determinant for student persistence in STEM majors (28). In this chapter, we describe our experiences with applying varying PBL approaches to our non-majors’ (K. Davis) and majors’ (C. Strollo) courses. As faculty at liberal arts institutions, the PBL approach is compatible with our own educational philosophies and with the educational philosophy of our institutions in general. Both of us find increased student engagement as a result of these techniques and increased stimulation in course planning, although we note similar challenges in development and implementation. It is our hope that you will find our experiences instructive in your own quest to infuse your teaching with some of the principles of a liberal arts education.

Problem-Based Learning at the Introductory Level Scope of Course Chemical Science (CHEM 101) is a non-majors’, introductory chemistry course at Manchester University (North Manchester, IN). This course is part of the “Ways of Knowing – The Natural World” section of the Manchester CORE, or liberal arts requirements. Beginning in January 2012, I (K. Davis) converted my sections of this course to a Project-Based Learning method. (Note that Project-Based Learning is a subcategory of problem-based learning; sometimes both methods are abbreviated as PBL in the literature.) Project-Based Learning methods are far more common in K-12 classrooms than in undergraduate education. However, classification can be difficult, as Thomas notes that there is no universally-accepted model or theory of Project-Based Learning (29). However, Project-Based Learning has several defining features including the long-form investigation of an open-ended question or problem, instructor facilitation to aid students in the creation and synthesis of new knowledge, and the culmination of the work in an authentic final product or presentation. In Chemical Science, students receive and explore course content through the lens of a central project; each project was designed using a modified version of the Buck Institute for Education’s approach to Project-Based Learning (30). This framework consists of seven “Essential Elements” that correspond to the defining elements of Project-Based Learning as suggested by Thomas. Students learn key content knowledge, understanding, and success skills through the “Essential Project Design Elements” (boldface, underlined type) of a challenging problem or question that shapes a sustained inquiry; an authentic problem or product 135

that students might encounter in their personal or professional lives; student voice and choice in shaping the outcome of the project; a reflection process by which students can continually evaluate their current knowledge/skills against those necessary to complete the project; critique and revision to improve the finished product; and a public product. Students complete 1-2 projects per term, each consisting of approximately 20 classroom hours. In my experience, Project-Based Learning provides a great deal of flexibility with regard to content material and final outcomes. This is clear from Table 1, which shows the central questions, content knowledge, and public products that I have implemented over six years of Project-Based Learning course offerings. This flexibility keeps the course interesting and fresh for professor and students, even after many iterations. The Project-Based Learning method also provided focus to my syllabus. Rather than constructing a syllabus around specific concepts and special topics, my focus shifted to creating an authentic central question and product. This meant that the content knowledge naturally unfolded as part of an overarching issue. As a result, the acquisition of content knowledge became more accessible to the students and shifted their focus from simply memorizing facts and algorithms to applying knowledge in context, as discussed below.

Table 1. Project Library for Chemical Science Central Question

Content Knowledge

Public Product

How can we bring the chemical elements to life?

Atomic structure, periodic properties, nuclear chemistry

Library exhibit

How have Manchester graduates influenced the world through their science?

Atomic structure, chemical bonding, polymers

Teaching materials for classmates

Just because a product can be found in a store, does that make it worth buying?

Chemical bonding, molecular shape, intermolecular forces

Advertising analysis essay and advertisement

How do molecules shape our lives and society?

Chemical bonding, molecular shape, intermolecular forces

Presentation to local high school students

What’s in Eel River water, and how can it be made safer for the community?

Solution chemistry, acids and bases, water quality

Fact sheet on pollutant in local watershed

What does scientific discovery look like?

Nanotechnology, polymers, drug design*

News article on a recent scientific discovery


I do not cover all of these topics in the same unit each year. Instead, I choose one or two topics to focus on and build the unit around recent discoveries in those areas.


Implementation – “Stories from the Periodic Table” “Stories from the Periodic Table” is a Project-Based Learning unit that was developed and implemented in January 2016, consisting of 20 classroom hours. Following an introductory activity in which students explored the origins and discovery stories of the elements, they were presented with the challenging question, “How can we bring the chemical elements to life?” Project groups of five to six students (assigned at random) practiced collaboration and self- and group-management to fulfill five parameters, which I outlined in an opening project summary document: 1.


3. 4. 5.

Propose a set of three elements that are in some way related to a general theme. No two groups can choose the same theme or the same element. First come, first served; I will help subsequent groups revise their proposals to resolve any overlap. Divide into three subgroups, each responsible for one specific element. The main group will coordinate the overall look of the display and make sure that each subgroup’s work fits the theme. Develop an exhibit around their chosen elements for display in [campus library]. Submit a reference list in MLA format. Complete a project evaluation.

In order to fulfill these objectives, students performed a sustained inquiry through the topics of atomic structure, periodic properties, nuclear chemistry, chemical formulas and nomenclature, and the mole, incorporating this information into their exhibits where appropriate. They exercised student voice and choice by coupling this content to outside research on the origins, production, and uses of their proposed set of three elements. For example, americium, thorium, and iron comprised the “Super Elements;” or, gold, silver, and platinum comprised “Expensive Elements.” Each group displayed their final exhibit contribution on a four-sided column. To unify the display, I prepared a summary display column on atomic structure, the periodic table, and historical and geographic origins of the elements. Two class periods prior to the exhibit launch, student groups performed a critique of one another’s exhibits, ensuring that the exhibit contributions included the required information on classification, atomic structure, isotopic abundance, and discovery and naming information for each element. Groups also evaluated the coherence of theme and the visual appeal of the display. They used those critiques, along with instructor feedback, to perform a revision of their work, producing the authentic and public product of an exhibit on the chemical elements that remained on display at the University library from January-April. In their post-project reflection, students reported satisfaction with the content and the project-based learning method, as discussed below. They also reported that they had to incorporate information from other fields, such as historical records, and that they exercised skills that are not traditionally practiced in a science course, like writing and graphic design. In doing these things, many students reported 137

that they now understood that the elements are related in many ways beyond the periodic table and that science is a deeply human process. In other words, they had begun to recognize, through practice, one of the key aspects of the liberal arts: that various methods of inquiry are needed to address an ill-defined problem.

Outcomes of Project-Based Learning at the Introductory Level Implementing Project-Based Learning has produced three main rewards for me. First, students report a modest change in their engagement with the course and the course material. Second, students report some shift in their focus from acquiring content knowledge to applying content knowledge. Third, and most relevant to the topic at hand, students (and their instructor!) were required to incorporate skills and knowledge from other fields in order to develop a holistic understanding of the challenging question and to produce a high-quality final product. Students do not report that a Project-Based Learning approach increases the amount of time spent working outside of class. Before conversion to Project-Based Learning, students reported spending of 6.0±2.6 hours (average ± standard deviation, 8/28 students reporting) on work outside of class. After conversion, this value has to be divided into two categories: those students who experienced a Project-Based Learning approach combined with content delivery via traditional lecture (2012-2014, 36/80 students reporting), or students who experienced Project-Based Learning combined with flipped classroom delivery (2015-2017, 56/97 students reporting). Students in the first group reported spending 8.3±3.9 hours working on material outside of class, while students in the second group reported spending 5.9±3.0. A Student’s t-test (α=0.05) shows the traditional lecture mean was not significantly different from the Project-Based Learning plus traditional lecture group; however, it was significantly different from the Project-Based Learning plus flipped classroom group. Furthermore, the mean hours spent out of class for the two Project-Based Learning groups, regardless of content delivery method, were also significantly different. The lesson to learn here is not that Project-Based Learning requires students to spend more time on course material outside of class. Instead, this suggests that the flipped classroom reduces classwork time outside of class. This is far from surprising, since the intention of the flipped classroom is to move application of the material into class time. This certainly includes project work, and I design my syllabi to provide ample time for project work to happen in the classroom. To evaluate student engagement with the material under Project-Based Learning, I also considered whether students viewed the project as catalyzing their interest in learning more about the topics. To evaluate this aspect, in 2015 and 2016, students used a Likert scale to “Rate how important [course components] were to feel engaged with the material in [Unit]. “Engaged” means that you became interested in learning more about the subject. For the two years and two projects surveyed, a minimum of 73% of students rated the public project outcome as “Important” or “Very Important” to their engagement. This suggests that projects, and their public outcomes, are an effective method for engaging 138

the majority of non-majors in the acquisition and application of chemical content knowledge. Under Project-Based Learning, students are less likely to focus on the means for acquiring content knowledge, such as lectures or lecture videos, as important aspects of the course. This shows in student evaluation data for the question, “What aspects of the teaching or the content of this course were especially effective?” (Note that, in this case, the “number of unique responses” in Table 2 does not equal the number of students reporting. Instead, some students cited more than one method as effective, and such answers were coded appropriately.) As seen in Table 2, the implementation of Project-Based Learning, and later, co-implementation of a flipped classroom, correlates with a drop in the number of responses citing lecture materials, such as slides, handouts, etc., as effective aspects of the course. Interestingly enough, the drop in appreciation for the lecture materials was not entirely taken up as appreciation for “direct application” aspects of the course, which would include lab activities and projects. Instead, the overall diversity of responses increased, as reflected by the increase in responses classified as “other.” There was also an unexpected increase in students viewing me as a more relatable, passionate, and engaged instructor under Project-Based Learning, as well as a slight increase in students who now viewed science as more relatable and accessible to them as a non-science major. Fortunately, even though students are now less likely to specifically cite lecture materials as especially effective aspects of the course, they still report high satisfaction with those materials, A minimum of 67% of students reported being “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied” with lecture materials such as videos, outlines, and study guides. In most cases, that number was in excess of 75%. This suggests to me that students still find the lecture materials useful, but that these materials are no longer the focus of the course for them. Along with the student response trends in Table 2, the switch to Project-Based Learning correlates with a student group who sees the course as less about me as the professor (lecture materials) and more about them as a learner. Since the drive for lifelong learning is another key aspect of an effective liberal arts education, I appreciate the change. Lastly, under Project-Based Learning, students report that they have to employ skills and call upon knowledge that one does not necessarily associate with a chemistry classroom. This information comes from post-project reflections, in which students answer the question, “What do you feel is the most important thing you learned in this project? (This includes all items that might have influenced your project, from lecture, to lab activities, to any outside research.)” Selected student responses are listed below. A brief summary of each project is provided to give additional context to student comments. 2012 Water Quality Project (prepare a fact sheet and a public service announcement about a pollutant in the local Middle Eel River Watershed) • •

“My Mac has a movie making app!” “Not to trust every news report I see about bacteria outbreaks. I learned that most E. coli is harmless, despite its bad reputation on the news.” 139

2012 Consumer Chemistry Project (evaluate the chemical content of a consumer product, analyze an advertisement for that product, and prepare a counter advertisement to benefit the consumer) • •

“It’s important to never take anything for what you see in an ad.” “The most important thing I learned was knowing how to look up ingredients and knowing how to classify them to find out how a product really works.” “I learned a lot by researching the ingredients and analyzing the credibility of the ad.”

2015 News Article Project (summarize a press release on a recent advance in chemistry and write a news article that contextualizes that advance for a specific group) • •

“How to write factually but also with interjection of opinion.” “The most important thing I learned is how to make a news article that draws a person’s attention. The inclass [sic] lecture on ledes helped a lot.”

2016 Element Exhibit Project (design a library display on the properties, uses, and discovery of the elements) • • •

“How to research and look for credible sources.” “Creating and recognizing the links between elements.” “Elements have a larger and more complex background than most people believe.”

2017 Scientist Presentation Project (teach classmates about a chemistry topic related to a scientific discovery made by a Manchester University graduate) •

• •

“The benefits of going to the library. There was a nice assortment of information on our guy that we researched in the library and not so much stuff online. It is really worth the effort on looking at some of the information over there.” “people need to know about that people that made the project, they need to know there [sic] background and everything, they need to feel connected with them in other to know what they are doing.” “About the chemists that graduated from Manchester. I didn’t know anything about them before these projects” “How what we were learning could be applying [sic] to the research and how we can teach it better.”

These responses show that as a result of completing projects, students counted non-chemical aspects among their important lessons from the course. These include communication skills like audience analysis (2015), writing skills (2015), media literacy (2012), information literacy (2012, 2016), and library 140

skills (2017). They also felt a greater connection to University history (2017), as well as the broader history (2016) of chemistry. Or, in the words of a student evaluating the course as a whole: “I liked that it could be tailored to those who weren’t chemistry majors. There was math, writing and some creativity. Everyone had an equal chance to show a strength of his or hers.” Taken together, through Project-Based Learning, my students have more opportunities to experience chemistry and the natural sciences as part of a larger whole, allied with the arts, humanities, and social sciences to create a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the world. Surely, this is a key goal of the liberal arts.

Table 2. Percentage of Student Responses Citing Selected Course Aspects as “Especially Effective.” Response Data from Manchester University Student Evaluation of Teaching, 2011-2017. Traditional Lecture (2011)

Project-Based Learning + Lecture (2012-2014)

Project-Based Learning + Flipped Classroom (2015-2017)

Lecture materials




Direct application (labs and projects)




Instructor Engagement




Relatability of Subject








Number of unique responses




Cumulative number of students




Problem-Based Learning at the Upper Level Brief Overview of CSBSJU’s Approach to the Chemistry Curriculum The chemistry department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSBSJU) recently revised its curriculum according to the new ACS CPT guidelines to better integrate the five fields of chemistry (31). Students take a one-semester introductory course that develops a qualitative understanding 141

of Structure and Properties from an atoms-first approach (32), followed by a series of five foundational courses in Reactivity (33, 34) and Chemical Analysis. The Reactivity courses bridge organic, inorganic, and biochemistry, while the Chemical Analysis courses combine analytical and physical chemistry. Students also complete four foundation labs focused around purification, separation, synthesis, and measurement followed by an advanced integrated lab course. All of our labs are designed to be enrolled in independently from our introductory and foundation courses, so the only prerequisite for labs are the previous laboratory. In their third and fourth years, students take a series of two-credit, in-depth courses and can obtain a concentration within the major by enrolling in at least four in-depths with a designated theme. Currently, the concentrations that we offer are chemical biology, industrial materials, and environmental chemistry. I will discuss the in-depth course that students are required to take for the environmental chemistry concentration.

Scope of Course Climate and Habitat Change (CHEM 343) is a two-credit, upper-division, in-depth course that is offered every year. This course studies the planet Earth and the changing chemistry of the soil, water and air by investigating the sources, reactions, transport, effects, and fates of chemical species, including the effects of technology and other anthropogenic activities. The course introduces students to 6 major themes in environmental chemistry: Sustainability and Green Chemistry; Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Pollution; Water Chemistry and Water Pollution; Metals, Soil Sediments and Waste Disposal; Toxic Organic Compounds; and Energy and Climate Change. The learning goals expect students to: • • • • •

develop an understanding of environmental stresses from a chemical perspective develop the skills needed to think critically about and discuss environmental issues evaluate environmental arguments improve oral and written communication skills gain an understanding of how environmental samples are analyzed.

This course is discussion based and the reading material comes from the scientific literature, including primary research and literature reviews. I designed the course to be writing intensive. Students prepare weekly response papers to a scientific article of their choosing, in addition to preparing a large final review paper. I assign papers because students in general, and especially in the sciences, do not get enough opportunities to practice their craft of writing. The first time I offered the course, I had students prepare individual final papers. In the most recent iteration of the course, they completed the paper with a partner, because encouraging them to collaborate with a fellow student to write a coherent paper fosters the important skill of cooperation. Writing also promotes a higher order of thinking that better prepares them for discussion. 142

Implementation of Blended Learning Techniques In an upper-level course, where foundation knowledge has already been acquired, we can look at specific chemical problems through current research topics. Inquiry- (or problem-) based learning emphasizes understanding the process and developing the skills to identify problems and propose solutions. I (C. Strollo) employ techniques that prompt students to actively question, analyze and communicate knowledge. Students learn through a variety of channels; therefore, I employ interactive lectures, small-group discussions, response papers, and case-study activities. This allows students to exercise their understanding in a variety of ways. Through classroom exercises, students become proficient in the principles of chemistry, which prepares them to pursue knowledge in the laboratory. Research finds that problem-based pedagogy is the best way for students to learn and be able to translate those skills to real-world problems (25).

Discussion, Case Studies, and Lecture I try to encourage students to actively engage in the material by having them critically analyze recent advances in environmental research. A large part of this course focuses on reading and discussing primary literature. This course also needs to incorporate topics from an analytical chemistry perspective. For every review article, there is also a practical article on instrument design, measurement and quantification, and/or figures of merit. For instance, we read “Regional and global emissions of air pollutants: recent trends and future scenarios” (35) and “Preparation of a particle loaded membrane for trace gas sampling” (36) for one class period, and students are provided with the questions below to guide the discussion. Discussion usually starts with small groups (less than four); then the small groups report out to the larger class throughout the class time. Breakout lectures are used if necessary and when I feel students need redirection or clarification, but I encourage them to seek answers from their peers first. In this particular class period, I spend a little time going over the different chemical model scenarios, as students are not expected to have prior knowledge of them. Regional and Global Emissions of Air Pollutants • • • • • •

What are the goals/findings of this study? What is the significance of the key air pollutants? Evaluate the trends of the key air pollutants in Figure 1. Evaluate the estimates of the key pollutants in Figure 7. Discuss the benefits and/or drawbacks of the bottom-up and top-down methodologies? Describe the different climate scenarios of future emissions?


Trace Gas Sampling • • • • • •

What are the goals/findings of this study? What is cryofocusing? Why do increased particle ratios increase the sampling sensitivity? What is the timeframe for sampling to prevent analyte loss? How do they account for interferences? What are some of the applications for this technique?

Writing Throughout the eight-week course, students are also assessed on their ability to write about current research. Their critical reading of articles is developed through in-class activities; then, they are asked to demonstrate their critical thinking skills by preparing five response papers to articles focused on the themes: Air, Water, Soil, Energy/Biosphere, and one open topic. I (C. Strollo) provide them with a list of appropriate journals to choose from, but the students choose the article. These critical response papers are one to three pages in length to promote concise writing. They are responsible for citing the article they are responding to and any other sources they use. They are asked to demonstrate an understanding of the chemistry by identifying and defining the scientific problem. Then, they evaluate the experimental methods used and assess the conclusions made. Response papers are evaluated on the criteria of organization, clarity, depth and critical thinking. Students also prepare a 10-15 page literature review on some topic relevant to the course. This is a more advanced discussion on a number of topics, particularly ones that have not been covered in class. It is imperative that they thoroughly explain and demonstrate a clear understanding of the science involved. The final paper is evaluated using the following criteria: integration of knowledge, topic focus, depth of discussion, cohesiveness, spelling and grammar, sources, and citations. Students also provide a short presentation to the class on their topic. Outcomes of Project-Based Learning at the Upper Level The first year I taught this course, I required reading and homework from an online textbook (37). Based on mid-semester evaluations, students struggled with the eBook format and connecting the book topics with the discussion topics. In retrospect, I felt students needed more background information, since this was their first environmental chemistry course, but, in fact, I was not exploiting their knowledge gained in foundation courses. During spring 2015, I made the eBook readings and practice problems optional. This worked out well. Students who wanted more background and extra practice could exploit those resources. In the first semester I ran this course, student perceptions of the course were overwhelmingly positive (Table 3). Based on the final student survey results and my own mid-term evaluations, I adjusted the out-of-class assignments from 144

the electronic textbook, and students appreciated that. They thought I facilitated our discussion well, and they reported improvement in their critical reading and writing skills. I did underestimate the amount of time it would take to provide ample feedback on their first papers, so I adjusted due dates to make sure they were not handing in assignments without first receiving feedback on the previous assignment.

Table 3. Summary of Student Responses to End-of-Semester Survey* Positive

2014 15 students

2015 13 students


• Improved my ability to critically read and interpret scientific literature (2) • Learned a lot (3) • Liked the format; good mix of reading, discussion and writing (2) • Great attitude, encouraging, engaged, made the classroom a very comfortable setting (4) • Overall good course (4)

• More quizzes and lecture • Textbook overwhelming • More feedback sooner

• Learned a lot (4) • Had a lot of fun, class was fun, interesting (5) • Helped us understand methods of analysis in each article • Good facilitation of the discussions (5) • Emphasized critical thinking • Exposes students to many current, relatable topics (4)

• Too much information (2) • Scientific articles difficult to understand (2)

* I coded common responses by listing their shared theme and I tallied the total number of responses that fit that theme. The total number of responses is in parentheses after the theme.

The student perceptions for the second offering of this course are also very positive. They enjoyed the discussions and topics and they reported gaining a good understanding of a broad span of topics relating to climate change. Some students found the articles difficult to understand and felt that the course was trying to cover too much information. I have considered the idea of giving the students reading guides initially to help them develop their critical reading skills. Reading scientific articles does take some practice, and I enjoy exploring them with the students and discussing how to read the literature more efficiently. Unlike the first semester, there were a few students who were not chemistry majors enrolled in the course during the second semester. Since I did not receive this comment in the first run of the course, it might be attributed to the fact I had non-majors. I want my course to be accessible to everyone with the prerequisites, but I think I will refrain from 145

using reading guides and instead encourage students to come in to discuss with me in office hours. I want students to engage the material and not just skim it for what is important. As the semester progresses, they gain the critical reading skills needed to understand and identify the salient points. Table 4 shows self-reported student learning gains from an anonymous survey I distributed separately from their end of semester evaluations done through the college. Responses were only collected for Spring 2015, and it is important to note that reading from the textbook was not required. Students report that their knowledge has increased and that discussion, more so than writing, contributed to this. They have a strong understanding of how environmental samples are analyzed and how to evaluate scientific arguments and report being able to think critically about environmental issues. Students were also asked about the strengths of the course and I have included the comments below. Students overwhelmingly reported that discussions on current environmental issues was a strength of the course and a few even enjoyed the final paper.

Table 4. Results of the Student Survey Survey statement


I developed an understanding of environmental stresses from chemical perspective.


I developed the skills needed to think critically about and discuss environmental issues.


I learned to evaluate scientific arguments.


I improved my oral communication skills.


I improved my written communication skills.


I gained an understanding of how environmental samples are analyzed.


Reading scientific articles enhances my learning of the topics.


Reading from the textbook enhances my learning of the topics.


Discussions of scientific articles enhance my learning of the topics.


Small group discussion enhances my learning of the topics.


Large group discussion enhances my learning of the topics.


Writing response/review papers enhances my learning of the topics.


My knowledge of this subject has increased.



Student learning gains 5-strongly agree, 4-agree, 3-neither, 2-disagree, 1-strongly disagree.


Summary of Student Responses from Home-Grown Survey Strengths of the course • • • • • • • • • • •

“a large scope of environmental chemistry is presented” “The final paper was a great way to make student dive into a topic rather than just getting a basic understanding of it.” “Getting to the current issues in the environment today was a big strength of the class” “Discussions cleared up questions on articles.” “I think the group discussions helped all students be able to discuss ideas and learn from other perspectives.” “discussion” “Discussion questions got good responses.” “Learned a lot from reading a variety of articles.” “I was not expecting that I would enjoy the final project.” “I wasn’t expecting to get such a wide variety of topics in such a short time period.” “I wasn’t expecting to have good conversations in class every day-- but Dr. Strollo helped us every day in class, and helped my own scientific discussion skills.”

Conclusions: Lessons Learned from PBL Development and Implementation Although we use variants on PBL at different levels of the chemistry curriculum, we note some similar benefits and challenges in implementation. At both levels, our students appreciated the opportunities to use skills from other parts of their coursework, particularly writing, and they found the coursework/instructor to be more relatable. They also expressed discomfort engaging with level-appropriate primary literature, and periodic difficulty in managing and organizing the flow of information. As instructors, we both find that PBL enriched our own courses and helped us to offer our students more authentic engagement with chemistry. From experiencing and seeking to overcome our own challenges, we offer four pieces of encouragement and advice: 1.

Lecture is (comparatively) easy; promoting active learning is hard. Effective implementation of problem-based learning requires turning large parts of the classroom over to the students. Giving a lecture puts you in control of content delivery, but it is not a good way to ensure that students absorb the content and apply it to the problem at hand. Active learning, where students are engaging skills to solve problems, allows students to better internalize material and concepts. However, incorporating those techniques can be difficult as an instructor. For example, leading discussion is very dependent on student personality, preparedness, and willingness to participate. I (C. Strollo) had to make 147




sure I was consciously creating an environment where everyone could participate. When it all comes together, discussions can be extremely rewarding and fun for both the student and the instructor. Students often come up with all kinds of problems they want to solve once they realize they are capable of proposing solutions. Developing and implementing effective writing assignments was another area that drove this lesson home to us. We both found that when our writing prompts were not defined well enough to promote reflection, or when our expectations were not expressed clearly enough, writing assignments were not as useful to the students as we had hoped. Our students tended to want more explicit direction in exactly what to write, while we were trying to get them to use writing to demonstrate their own critical thinking skills. Do not discount your ability to assess non-science work. Even when you use a rubric, assessing “softer” skills like discussion, writing, and collaboration feels much more subjective than assessing students’ ability to accurately perform calculations, recall conceptual material, or apply concepts to solve general problems. However, good assessment in those skills, like writing, discussion, and collaboration, is critical to keeping students motivated to practice them. Call for help when you need it. You do not have to be the only expert in the room. Your colleagues in other fields are an excellent resource: let their experience enrich the students as well. For example, I (K. Davis) invited members of the University marketing department to help with the critique, revision, and final evaluation of a project in which students developed an advertising analysis and a new advertisement for a food or household item. Their input greatly improved the overall experience, as well as the quality of the final projects. Collaboration can be also used to great effect at the overall course level, as evidenced by Cowden and Santiago (21), a chemistry faculty and librarian, who developed an advanced biochemistry course with a strong focus on improving students’ information literacy and critical thinking skills. Although I (K. Davis) have found building and maintaining personal connections with colleagues to be the most effective as I learn to apply problem-based learning to my own courses, I can also recommend the wealth of online information available from the K-12 education community, through websites like Edutopia ( and the Buck Institute for Education ( Do not discount the importance of employing multiple methods of inquiry in your own courses. If our students are to impact the world through their lives and careers, they must learn to develop cogent explanations of their work, and they must also learn to speak and write persuasively about the importance and relevance of scientific inquiry to their peers in science and to society at large. If we, as faculty, do not reinforce the connections between chemistry and other fields in our own courses, we run the risk of implying to our students that those methods are less important than the “hard science” of the lab. On the other hand, when 148

we incorporate discussion, writing, textual analysis, public speaking, etc. into our courses, our students gain a more holistic picture of scientific inquiry in the context of other academic disciplines, as well as broader societal problems. In other words, by taking pedagogical approaches like PBL that favor the application of such skills we, faculty and students, become better practitioners of the liberal arts.

Acknowledgments C. Strollo would like to thank the faculty of CSBSJU’s chemistry department for developing a curriculum that fosters problem-based learning and Learning Enhancement Services for providing training for new faculty. She would also like to thank Alicia Peterson for her discussions on improving this course. K. Davis is grateful to Heather Schilling for early-career introduction to, and training in, Project-Based Learning. She also thanks Kristen Short and the Manchester University Pedagogy Discussion Group for productive discussions on promoting active learning and self-regulated learning.

References American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training. Excellent Undergraduate Chemistry Program. acsorg/about/governance/committees/training/acsapproved/degreeprogram/ excellent-undergraduate-chemistry-programs.pdf (accessed 29 March 2017). 2. Hodges, L. C. Active learning in upper-level chemistry courses: a biochemistry example. J. Chem. Educ. 1999, 76, 376. 3. Bennett, N. S.; Taubman, B. F. Reading journal articles for comprehension using key sentences: an exercise for the novice research student. J. Chem. Educ. 2013, 90, 741–744. 4. Greco, G. E. Chemical information literacy at a liberal arts college. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 429–433. 5. Miller, D. M.; Czegan, D. A. C. Integrating liberal arts and chemistry: a series of general chemistry assignments to develop science literacy. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 864–869. 6. Hicks, R. W.; Bevsek, H. M. Utilizing Problem-Based Learning in Qualitative Analysis. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89, 254–257. 7. Shorb, J. M.; Eckermann, A. “Synthesis of Unknown Crystals: Certificate of Analysis.” Chemistry 127 Lab Manual; Hope College: Holland, MI, 2015. 8. Savery, J. R. Interdiscip. J. Problem-Based Learn. 2006, 1, 1–20. 9. Savin-Badin, M. and Howell, C. Foundations of Problem-based Learning; McGraw-Hill Education Europe: Maidenhead, 2004. 10. Ram, P. Problem-Based Learning in Undergraduate Instruction. A Sophomore Chemistry Laboratory. J. Chem. Educ. 1999, 76, 1122–1126. 11. Cancilla, D. Integration of Environmental Analytical Chemistry with Environmental Law: The Development of a Problem-Based Laboratory. J. Chem. Educ. 2001, 78, 1652–1660. 1.


12. Cessna, S. G.; Kishbaugh, T. L. S.; Neufeld, D. G.; Cessna, G. A. A Multiweek, Problem-Based Laboratory Project to Remove Copper from Soil. General Chemistry Labs for Teaching Thermodynamics and Equilibrium. J. Chem. Educ. 2009, 86, 726–729. 13. Davis, E. J.; Pauls, S.; Dick, J. Project-Based Learning in Undergraduate Environmental Chemistry Laboratory: Using EPA Methods to Guide Student Method Development for Pesticide Quantitation. J. Chem. Educ. 2017ASAP DOI:10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b0035. 14. Flynn, A. B.; Biggs, R. The Development and Implementation of a ProblemBased Format in a Fourth-Year Undergraduate Synthetic Organic Chemistry Laboratory Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89, 52–57. 15. Saloranta, T.; Lönnqvist, J.; Eklund, P. C. Transforming Undergraduate Students into Junior Researchers: Oxidation–Reduction Sequence as a Problem-Based Case Study. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 841–846. 16. Winschel, G. A.; Everett, R. K.; Coppola, B. P.; Shultz, G. V. Using Jigsaw-Style Spectroscopy Problem-Solving to Elucidate Molecular Structure through Online Cooperative Learning. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 1188–1193. 17. Erhart, S. E.; McCarrick, R. M.; Lorigan, G. A.; Yezierski, E. J. Citrus Quality Control: An NMR/MRI Problem-Based Experiment. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 335–339. 18. Nielsen, S. E.; Scaffidi, J. P.; Yezierski, E. J. Detecting Art Forgeries: A Problem-Based Raman Spectroscopy Lab. J. Chem. Educ. 2014, 91, 446–450. 19. Wells, M.; Clougherty, R. Use of Wikis in Chemistry Instruction for ProblemBased Learning Assignments: An Example in Instrumental Analysis. J. Chem. Educ. 2008, 85, 1446–1448. 20. Cannon, K. C.; Krow, G. R. Synthesis of Complex Natural Products as a Vehicle for Problem-Based Learning. J. Chem. Educ. 1998, 75, 1259–1260. 21. Dods, R. F. A Problem-Based Learning Design for Teaching Biochemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 1996, 73, 225–228. 22. Cowden, C. D.; Santiago, M. F. Interdisciplinary Explorations: Promoting Critical Thinking via Problem-Based Learning in an Advanced Biochemistry Class. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 464–469. 23. Belt, S. T.; Evans, H.; McCreedy, T.; Overton, T. L.; Summerfield, S. A Problem-Based Learning Approach to Analytical and Applied Chemistry. Univ. Chem. Ed. 2002, 6, 65–72. 24. Jansson, S.; Söderström, H.; Andersson, P. L.; Nording, M. L. Implementation of Problem-Based Learning in Environmental Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 2080–2086. 25. Spencer, J. N. New approaches to chemistry teaching. 2005 George C. Pimental Award. J. Chem. Educ. 2006, 83, 528. 26. Sandi-Urena, S.; Cooper, M.; Stevens, R. Effect of Cooperative ProblemBased Lab Instruction and Problem-Solving Skills. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89, 700–706.


27. Sandi-Urena, S.; Cooper, M. M.; Gatlin, T. A.; Bhattacharyya, G. Students’ Experience in a General Chemistry Cooperative Problem Based Laboratory. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 2011, 12, 434–442. 28. Graham, M. J.; Frederick, J.; Byars-Winston, A.; Hunter, A-B.; Handelsman, J. Science 2013, 341, 1455–1456. 29. Thomas, J. “A Review of Project-Based Learning.” http:// (accessed February 25, 2017). 30. Buck Institute for Education. Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements. gold_standard_pbl_essential_project_design_elements (accessed Feb 16, 2017). 31. Schaller, C. P.; Graham, K. J.; Johnson, B. J.; Fazal, M. A.; Jones, T. N.; McIntee, E. J; Jakubowski, H. V. Developing and Implementing a reorganized Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum Based on the Foundational Chemistry Topics of Structure, Reactivity and Quantitation,. J. Chem. Educ. 2014, 91, 321–328. 32. Schaller, C. P.; Graham, K. J.; Johnson, B. J.; Jakubowski, H. V.; McKenna, A. G.; McIntee, E. J; Jones, T. N.; Fazal, M. A.; Peterson, A. A. Chemical Structure and Properties: A Modified Atoms-First, One-Semester Introductory Chemistry Course. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 237–246. 33. Schaller, C. P.; Graham, K. J.; Johnson, B. J.; Jones, T. N.; McIntee, E. J. Reactivity I: A Foundation-Level Course for Both Majors and Non-majors in Integrated Organic, Inorganic, and Biochemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2015, 92, 2067–2073. 34. Schaller, C. P.; Graham, K. J.; McIntee, E. J; Jones, T. N.; Johnson, B. J. Reactivity II: A Second Foundation-Level Course in Integrated Organic, Inorganic, and Biochemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2016, 93, 1383–1390. 35. Amann, M.; Klimont, Z.; Wagner, F. Regional and global emissions of air pollutants: recent trends and future scenarios. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2013, 38, 31–55. 36. Jiang, R.; Pawliszyn, J. Preparation of a Particle-Loaded Membrane for Trace Gas Sampling. Anal. Chem. 2014, 86, 403–410. 37. Bailey, R. A.; Clark, H. M.; Ferris, J. P. Chemistry of the Environment, 2nd ed.; Harcourt/Academic Press: San Diego, CA, 2002.


Chapter 9

Liberal Arts Reading Strategies for the High School and University Chemistry Classroom Elaine B. Vickers*,1 and Rebecca Caldwell2 1Department

of Physical Science, Southern Utah University, 351 W. University Boulevard, Cedar City, Utah 84720, United States 2Department of Science, Trenton High School, 2601 Charlton Road, Trenton, Michigan 48183, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

Traditional liberal arts content can be integrated into chemistry courses by incorporating works of literature—e.g. novels, creative nonfiction, plays, and poetry—into the curriculum. Such implementation is possible with minimal impact on lecture time and can be done through two specific strategies outlined in this chapter: literacy challenges and literature circles. These strategies foster engaged, enjoyable reading while encouraging students to stretch themselves and their knowledge of course concepts. In addition, such assignments result in greater student-instructor and student-student rapport. Multiple approaches, components, and tips for such assignments will be discussed.

Introduction Reading—proficiently, critically, even enthusiastically—is one of the key skills students must master in order to succeed in a chemistry course. Yet many students simply skim or avoid reading assignments in general and academic publications in particular. Is there, then, a pathway by which students can rediscover (or perhaps discover) a love of reading? Could such discovery lead to increased reading of their textbook or course reading assignments? Additionally, could such a pathway provide an additional link in students’ minds between the chemical content covered in lecture and the chemistry inherent to their lives? © 2017 American Chemical Society

Introducing liberal arts literacy components into chemistry courses and encouraging students to read works of literature, including novels, poetry, creative nonfiction, plays, and screenplays could provide such a pathway. As students read books they have selected for themselves and material they enjoy reading, their aversion to and avoidance of reading breaks down, and they become more likely to read from their textbook or other scientific sources more often, more willingly, and in a more engaged manner. Typically, students enter science courses with the (reasonable) expectation that they will be asked to read scientific textbooks and articles, which are too often dry and/or difficult to properly engage them. As a result, reading becomes a chore to be avoided, and both the quality and quantity of student reading suffers. In addition, while not all are interested in reading primary literature, many would enjoy the ability to self-select a book that centers around science and the work of scientists. Students likely do not associate science class with reading novels, but that is something we as instructors can change about how students view science and what scientists do. Scientists read for information, read for fun, and read to engage with what other scientists are doing. If our goal is to have students think and act like scientists, reading broadly and deeply ought to be an important component of that goal. The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (1) by over 40 states has given high school science teachers the path to discuss the importance of reading as a way for students to engage in scientific practices. As teachers, we know how valuable and enjoyable reading can be to students, but often we do not know how to incorporate reading of novel-length works of literature into our classrooms. What about all the chemistry content? What if I don’t have time to cover [you fill in the blank]? These are valid concerns as teachers because we do not want to shortchange our students as they continue on in education. Or perhaps we feel this is our one chance to get students to experience chemistry. Fortunately, liberal arts reading can be integrated into chemistry courses, from high school through graduate school, without sacrificing content coverage. This premise has already seen support and successful implementation by numerous individual faculty members as well as organizations, including the National Science Teachers Association’s encouragement of literature circles (2), the relatively common practice of using science fiction to support student learning of science fact (3–5) and the unique ability of narrative fiction to engage students on a number of scientific topics (6). The principle of integrating literature and literacy into science class is increasingly considered essential for students as young as elementary school (7, 8) and research suggests a strong benefit in student learning when reading and writing are used in science class to develop scientific literacy as social practice (9). The integration of liberal arts reading into chemistry courses can be accomplished through two specific strategies outlined in this chapter: literacy challenges and literature circles. Both foster engaged, enjoyable reading while simultaneously building the students’ ability to connect scientific concepts to everyday life. In addition, these assignments give students the opportunity to develop a greater rapport with the instructor and with each other. 154

In this chapter, an overview of the literacy challenge and the literature circle assignments are presented, followed by ideas for implementation of these strategies, a recommended reading list to get instructors and students started, and relevant references for those interested in further study.

Method One: Literacy Challenges Background From high school through university, chemistry courses often have a vast amount of content that must be covered in a limited number of lecture hours. While many instructors like the idea of incorporating liberal arts or cross-curricular content, time constraints often prohibit this to a large degree. As instructors, however, we do not hesitate to give students large reading assignments from textbooks and other scientific sources that are often dry and technical. While this is arguably an important way to learn the content, too often it has the unintended and unfortunate effect of dampening students’ love of reading—or extinguishing it altogether. In addition, the assignment of textbook reading to a generation of students that does much of their reading in small portions on electronic screens can exacerbate problems in terms of overall literacy. Many of today’s students struggle with reading to begin with. In recent studies, only 20-35% of students at the middle school (10) through college (11) level were rated as proficient readers capable of critical evaluation of their reading material. While it is certainly valuable and necessary to challenge these students and help them reach a point where they are able to comprehend and retain the content of their textbook readings, additional tools are needed to bridge the gap between reading tweets and reading texts. Students need to be able to read engaging, accessible works of literature in order to hone their reading skills and open themselves up to the possibility of learning from and even enjoying reading. One immediate and easily-implemented step toward this goal is incorporation of a literacy challenge into virtually any chemistry course, from high school through graduate level. This assignment is easily adopted and takes up virtually no lecture time.

Overview and Implementation The literature challenge has been used in the following courses at Southern Utah University: Introductory Chemistry (one-semester general education course), Elementary (GOB) Chemistry (general portion of a two-semester course), and Intermediate Inorganic Chemistry (one-semester upper division course for majors.) Typical enrollment in each of these courses is 40-50 students. The literacy challenge requires only a brief introduction during lecture at the beginning of the semester. One successful approach has been to give students a brief overview of the assignment during the second day of lecture and enhance the 155

appeal of the assignment by bringing a stack of books. The instructor then gives a one-to-two-sentence overview of each in order to catch the students’ attention and get them thinking. After the initial introduction in lecture, the assignment takes place in four steps on the student’s own time: 1.


Students choose a book to read and sign up in the instructor’s office within the first two weeks of class. This ensures that the assignment is begun and also makes students find and visit the instructor’s office to see that the office is accessible and the instructor is approachable. (Students may change their chosen title at any point in the semester without penalty.) Students read the book, keeping the following in mind: •



The main objective is to read for enjoyment. Students should pick a book they genuinely want to read and should enjoy the story. As they are reading, students mark 3-5 places in the book where they find chemistry as well as a few favorite passages. (For introductory courses, I encourage them to find as many chemistry connections as possible but also allow science connections in general.)

Students find an article online that ties into one of the specific chemistry concepts they found in the book. Peer-reviewed journals are preferred but not required for introductory courses; however, articles must be from reliable sources. Students report to the instructor (typically during office hours) to complete the assignment. The brief oral exam typically consists of four parts, varying in length depending on the students’ enthusiasm and attention to detail: • • • •

Tell me a little about the book. What were some of your favorite parts or passages? Tell me about the chemistry you found in the book. Tell me about the article you found and how it relates to the book. What are you going to read next?

It is helpful to remind the students about this assignment throughout the semester. Typically, the oral exam must be completed about a month before the semester ends to avoid conflicts between reading and preparing for final exams. The relative informality of the assignment itself as well as its grading is essential in fostering the idea that reading should not be an exercise in searching for potential test content but in truly enjoying, understanding, and connecting information, emotion, and experience. A simple rubric can be used in grading and may include the following categories: 156

• • • • •

Appropriate book selection Knowledge of book (Does the student seem to have actually read it?) Thoughtful reflection (Does the student seem to have reflected on the book rather than just memorizing plot points, etc.?) Chemical connection (Did the student find chemistry in the book and make appropriate connections to course material?) Article selection (Did the student find an appropriate scientific article related to the chemistry in the book, and do they understand the article itself?)

Outcomes To date, this assignment has been implemented for approximately 300 chemistry students in three different chemistry courses over the course of the past two academic years. Naturally, not every student has enjoyed the assignment, and not every student has completed the assignment. However, a majority report a positive experience both when they come to complete the oral exam and on their anonymous course evaluation at the end of the semester. Due to the deliberately informal nature of the literacy challenge, responses collected are anecdotal and not quantized or heavily analyzed, but the following are common themes: • • • •

“I already know what I’m going to read next, because I found this other book that relates to my major or future career.” “I wasn’t sure if I’d find anything in this book, but there really is chemistry in everything.” “This part of my book reminded me of this concept from class, and it makes more sense now.” “I remembered how much I like reading.”

Reading To Enhance Scientific Literacy: An Alternate Approach An alternative approach to the literacy challenge has been presented and implemented in a university-level biology course and is worthy of further attention (12). In this assignment, students must choose from a list of books provided by the instructor. Rather than finding an article and having a single oral examination to complete the assignment, students were asked to read one book from the list over a four-week period. Students joined a permission-only group on the book-based social media site Goodreads so their reading progress could be tracked; the site also allowed impressions and journal entries to foster student engagement with reading. After completion of the reading, online discussions were started via open-ended questions to allow for critical analysis of the story and facilitate analysis of the books’ scientific content. Students were then charged with finding a research article related to the scientific themes of their chosen story. The final assignment was a paper connecting the story with the article and reflecting on the topic from both viewpoints. In essence, this alternative approach represents somewhat of a hybrid between the literacy assignment presented previously and the literature circles presented in the following section. 157

Method Two: Literature Circles Background The use of literature circles, which has primarily existed in the context of a student’s English class, can bring liberal arts reading content into any science classroom. Literature circles are essentially book clubs: small, peer-led discussion groups (13). Literatures circles exist in elementary and secondary classrooms and certainly on college campuses. An important feature common of literature circles is to allow the students to lead the discussions. While book clubs have found a way into the mainstream, teachers are able to personalize the concept of literature circles into their classrooms. Teachers are personalizing literature circles to introduce new and complicated scientific vocabulary (14) and to allow students to make connections between scientific concepts and historical events (15). For example, a teacher may need to instruct about nuclear chemistry. Past practice of teaching may include lectures, reading the textbook, and defining words such as fission and fusion. Students given the opportunity to read The Plutonium Files by Eileen Welsome and then participate in literature circles are introduced to key terms, given historical context as well as knowledge of the application of the nuclear chemistry. Overview and Implementation Literature circles were first implemented into a suburban high school general science class available to students in grades 9-12. Each of the two sections had 30 students. A survey given at the beginning of the classes found that 77.0% of the students read once a week for fun. The majority, 84.2% of the students, indicated they planned to attend a 4-year university. The most popular reported majors among these students were the health industry and business. The focus of this course is on the behaviors of scientists that are found in all disciplines when investigating and communicating about the natural world. Since the practices of science are stressed within the course, the activities can be centered on any scientific topics that students find interesting or want to know more about. Using literature circles gives students the opportunity to ask questions and define problems, engage in argument, and communicate information. These are three of the scientific practices of the new NGSS. Students were able to self-select books based on their interest in a particular area of science and had an opportunity to ask questions, participate in argumentation, and communicate information. In a traditional literature circle, the members are reading the same book and each small group discussion is centered on that book. Science is meant for evaluation—which includes comparing and contrasting—so groups were also allowed to choose different books by the same author or different books on the same topic. For example, a group was formed from students that enjoyed the style of writing by Mary Roach and could each read one of the following books: Packing for Mars, Stiff, Spook, Gulp, and Grunt. Another group formed around their interest in the food industry and books included Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., and Omnivore’s Dilemma. 158

While this is a nontraditional use of literature circles, in science it adds another dimension of evaluation and communication of ideas because not each person in the group had their eyes on the same set of words. Due to the variety of abilities because of age range of students as well as the difference in prior knowledge and experiences in science, it is helpful for students to select their own groups. This minimizes students’ concerns about speaking out and participating in a group. Each group had no less than four students; most groups had six students. It is important that the selection of the book centers on the interests of the individual students, but it can also be necessary for the instructor to provide some guidance. In high schools, a teacher must consider the available resources. The nontraditional formation of groups is helpful when libraries do not have enough copies of the same book but do have multiple books from the same author or centered on a particular topic. If a group was insistent on reading the same book, the group worked together to secure the same book for each member of the group. Outside the use of students’ written notes, which included a summary of the reading, new vocabulary words, and a list of lingering questions, there were no other writing assignments associated with the literature circles. The goal of the weekly group meetings were to engage in a natural conversation about the week’s reading. Each group was provided a lists of general questions to help facilitate discussion. (“What in the reading is connected to something you already learned about science?” or “What new questions about science do you have after this week’s reading?”) Students were expected to use evidence and passages from the book to support statements and arguments. The weekly group leader had the responsibility of keeping a log of each person’s participation by keeping a tally sheet. This was to ensure there were, as we put it in class, “no hogs and no logs.” The weekly group leader was there to assure each person had an opportunity to add to the conversation and that a group member was not allowed to be entirely passive (or dominant) in the discussion. This position rotated weekly so that each member had the opportunity to facilitate the discussion and lead the group. Students were assessed based on the quality of discussions, participation, use of text as evidence in discussions and journal entries described above. The evaluation was based on the instructor’s observations of on-task behaviors and the student’s turn at being the moderator or group leader. Self-assessment is also appropriate for literature circles. Students were to rate themselves after each discussion session with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest according to the following criteria: • • • • • •

I was able to complete all of this week’s reading assignment. I was able to complete my journal entry. I participated fully in today’s group discussion. I was able to use information from the text in my examples and arguments. Each member had an opportunity to participate in today’s discussion. The group leader was able to keep our group on task.

The use of literature circles in a science course can be an avenue to introduce students to new genres of books and encourage scientific discussions that do not come naturally from reading textbooks. The end of the project survey indicated 159

these future health science and business majors were introduced to books never before read and that they would read this genre again within the context of a future science course. Students reported enjoying the relaxed environment of the discussion although it was difficult at times getting discussions started in the groups. The group leaders had an important function in facilitating evidence based discussions; a skill desired among all majors and professions. Another added benefit to literature circles is the natural introduction of science vocabulary. Students were asked to record new scientific vocabulary found within the text. The introduction of vocabulary was not just a collection of words in a list to be separated defined. In cases where students are reading the same book, the teacher may choose to select important science vocabulary to introduce and study within context of the selected book. Students may then be assigned the task of finding other related vocabulary or other sources and usage of that term. Most importantly students were able to take ownership of what they wanted to learn and then engage in scientific practices that allowed them to ask questions, participate in argumentation and evidence-based communication. Although the structure of a college course is different than high school and may not allow as much time for reading and discussion with the class period, this is not impossible within the constraints of a college schedule. Reading times can be limited to one hour outside of class to allow time for other course work. Portions of lab time or recitation time can be used to facilitate group discussions. Instructors make time for what they prioritize and value in learning. If scientific practices as well as content are a priority and valued, then literature circles can be a wonderful way to incorporate these practices into any science class.

Additional Ideas for Implementation Although two specific methods are outlined above, there is a great deal of flexibility in introducing liberal arts reading into chemistry courses. Here are a few additional guidelines: 1.


Students often ask whether audiobooks are allowed; our answer is always yes. While reading in print results in better comprehension and retention for instructional texts (e.g. textbooks) (16), the opposite seems to be true for high-imagery texts (e.g. literary novels) (17), likely because the mind is more free to visualize and interpret literary language when it is not required to simultaneously decode text. Audiobooks also provide a solution for students who pronounce themselves “too busy to read” as they can be integrated into the schedule while driving, exercising, and various other tasks. In addition, many audiobook services (such as Audible) offer a free first book as a trial, and audiobooks are readily available at most libraries. Students may be overwhelmed by the idea of being able to choose any book. This can be compensated for to some degree by bringing a stack of books to class when the assignment is introduced and giving a very brief summary of each. 160






The library can be integrated as part of the assignment and become a free point of access for attaining a student’s chosen book. In addition to an institution’s library, having a personal library of some of the recommended titles can be an effective way of connecting with students and making books and liberal arts reading seem even more accessible. Effective teaching often involves demonstrating a genuine appreciation and enthusiasm for the subject matter, which can easily be done not only for chemical content but for works of literature. By reading students short passages from some of the recommended books, both the lecture and the idea of reading become more appealing to the student. (A list of recommended passages to use in lecture is provided at the end of the chapter.) Though informal, proper assessment tools can be utilized for literature-based assignments. How do we know if students have learned what we have intended them to learn? The very mention of an assessment can make students guarded, possessive, or robotic when working in a literature circle or reporting on a literacy challenge. The use of observations, conferencing with students and groups, as well as journaling can be tools for assessment in literature circles. In general, it is not desirable for grades to be the focus of the literacy assignments. As such, credit based on the instructor’s evaluation of student participation, understanding, and performance is appropriate and may be based on the outcomes and observations of relatively informal discussions or interviews. Literature circles may require in-class reading time. While 77.0% of students participating in literature circles indicated they read weekly for fun, this did not translate for many in reading the books selected for class. After the first week, there was a sharp decline in the students that had completed the outside reading assignment. The introduction of this new genre of books was difficult for some. Allowing class time for students to read is not always ideal from a scheduling standpoint, but it does alleviate this problem. The promotion of reading and discussion is not exclusive to reading entire books and novels. In order to integrate literature circles into courses with high amounts of required content, shorter reading selections may be incorporated. Indeed, shorter articles may generate more discussion among students than their novels. Students are able to discuss what they have just read, making the ideas easier to recall. Some books do not require the reader to read the entire book from cover to cover because each chapter can be considered a short story. Two examples are Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 Molecules that Changed History by Jay Burreson and Penny Le Couteu and The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.


Conclusion Educators agree that reading is an important skill in all disciplines and important for success in all aspects of life, but students’ desires and abilities in the reading arena are often lacking. The integration of liberal arts reading into chemistry classes can address this concern in a significant manner. By providing students a sample list of books—but then allowing students to choose any book they want to read—students have ownership in the title they’ve chosen, they rediscover the joy of reading that’s too often lost during the high school and undergraduate years, and they stretch themselves and their own knowledge of course concepts to find the connections between the story and the subject matter. Liberal arts reading can effectively bridge the gap between the short on-screen reading integral to students’ daily lives and the more challenging, technical reading required for success in school and ultimately in a professional setting.

Recommended Reading The following are a list of books that lend themselves well to literature circles and literacy challenges. (Note: It is highly recommended that the students be allowed to choose any book for the literacy challenge, but this list can serve as a starting point for students even when self-selection is allowed.) Novels The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter by Simon Mayo The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes Nonfiction Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (also Stiff, Spook, Gulp, and Grunt) Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser Food Inc. by Karl Weber (Editor) The Canon by Natalie Angier A World from Dust by Ben McFarland The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert L. Wolke Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson 162

Madam Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie and Vincent Sheean The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Related to Pop Culture The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs (basis for the TV series Bones) The Martian by Andy Weir (available in a classroom edition) Plays Copenhagen by Michael Frayn Arcadia by Tom Stoppard Proof by David Auburn Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel Poetry Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances by Mala Radhakrishnan Hypotheticals by Leigh Kotsilidis The Scientific Method by Mary Alexandra Agner

Literature Passages To Use in Lecture All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in which a young German boy rebuilds a radio and hears broadcasts about science that capture his imagination. There are scientific passages throughout, but pages 48 and 53 contain a beautiful description of the first time he finds the broadcasts and poetically convey the magnitude of the electromagnetic spectrum. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is a memoir that examines the life of a scientist, from childhood through graduate school and into research and academia. There are many relevant passages, but reading from the first two pages of chapter 5 provides students an opportunity to practice extracting conversion factors from text. The Martion by Andy Weir could be used any number of ways in lecture. In particular, the storyline where the main character uses hydrazine to make water (Log Entry: Sol 30) could be read in class and returned to throughout the semester on topics such as Lewis structures, chemical equations, and gas laws. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is the first novel of a sci-fi trilogy in which one character is able to turn any substance to steel and another wonders at technology which seems to defy the law of conservation of mass (chapter 34). The Canon by Natalie Angier contains accessible and humorous introductions to the atoms, subatomic particles, and the basics of bonding (chapters 4-5). 163

Various passages in The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley can be laced throughout lectures to practice converting chemical names to formulas and descriptions of reactions into chemical equations. For advanced courses, passages from Copenhagen by Michael Frayn (a Tonyaward winning play about a meeting between Bohr and Heisenberg during World War II that historians still wonder about) may be read or performed as readers theater to illustrate or introduce Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

References 1. 2.


4. 5.

6. 7.

8. 9.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states; The National Academies Press: Washington, DC, 2013. Straits, W.; Nichols, S. Literature Circles for Science NSTA Science and Children: Methods and Strategies. story.aspx?id=52824 (accessed June 12, 2017). Putt, S. Using Science Fiction to Teach Science Facts, Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works; Minnesota State University: Mankato, 2011. Ketchen, C. Teaching Science with Science Fiction; MS Thesis, Montana State University, 2014. Fink, L. S. Finding the Science Behind Science Fiction through Paired Readings. (accessed June 12, 2017). Ullery, J. Road Tested / When Science Meets Fiction. Education Update 2017, 59. Worth, K. Winokur, J. Crissman, S. Heller-Winokur, M. Davis, M. The Essentials of Science and Literacy: A Guide for Teachers; Heinemann: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 2009. Cox, C. A. Literature-Based Teaching in the Content Areas; SAGE Publications, Inc: Thousand Oaks, California, 2011. Sorvik, G. O.; Mork, S. M. Scientific literacy as social practice: Implications for reading and writing in science classrooms. NorDiNa (Nordic Studies in Science Education) 2017, 13, 268–281. Reardon, S. F.; Valentino, R. A.; Shores, K. A. The Future of Children 2012, 22, 17. Baer, J. D.; Cook, A. L.; Baldi, S. The Literacy of America’s College Students; American Institutes for Research: Washington, DC, 2006. Boswell, H. C.; Seegmiller, T. The American Biology Teacher 2016, 78, 664. Daniels, H. Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups; Stenhouse Publishers: Portland, ME, 2002. Miller, Literature Circles Roles for Science Vocabulary; The Science Teacher: Washington, DC, 2007. Straits, W. A Literature Circles Approach to Understanding Science as a Human Endeavor. Science Scope 2007, 31, 32–36. 164

16. Hron, A.; Kurbjuhn, I.; Mandl, H.; Schnotz, W. Advances in Psychology 1985, 29, 221. 17. Eddy, J. K.; Glass, A. L. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 1981, 20, 333.


Chapter 10

Environmental Justice: Chemistry in Context for Prison Inmates and Non-Majors Emily Metzger and Samantha Glazier* Chemistry Department, St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, New York 13617, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

This course, Environmental Justice, brings together two topics often separated by academic disciplines, chemistry and social justice, and two groups of students usually separated by razor wire, liberal arts students and incarcerated men. Case studies are the backbone of the course. Each case has a principle source and a secondary reading on fundamental social questions. For example, chapters from Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring are paired with Environmental Ethics by Homes Rolston and the movie Erin Brockovich with A Theory of Justice by John Rawls. The case studies let students explore how human activities produce consequences for natural systems and how cultural, economic, and political factors affect environmental policymaking. The teaching methods are a mixture of reading, writing, discussion, and presentation. Using a variety of methods gives students opportunities to play to their strengths and develop new skills, which is critical in a classroom where educational backgrounds and interest in the topic vary.

Introduction Liberal arts colleges are bound as a category of institutes of higher education by shared values about the purpose of an education. These values are articulated in mission statements and curricular objectives. The value of education in correctional facilities is similarly articulated, albeit with different priorities. For example, in Table 1, a few of the goals of St. Lawrence University (SLU) where © 2017 American Chemical Society

I teach chemistry and those of the prison where I taught two courses provide a specific example. The comparison illustrates how both institutions aspire to teach specific skills and develop personal ethics based on respect for others.

Table 1. Sample Objectives and Missions for SLU and the Department of Corrections (DOC) in NY St. Lawrence University Curricular Objectives

Department of Correctional Services Departmental Mission

• A depth of understanding in at least one field of study. • The ability to read, write, speak and listen well. • A personal ethic of considered values and an understanding of diverse cultures. • An understanding of scientific principles and methods and an understanding of the natural environment.

• To provide the inmate with skills or competencies necessary to function successfully in contemporary society. • To enable the inmate to function at the sixth-grade reading and mathematics level. • Teach offenders the need for discipline and respect, and the importance of a mature understanding of a work ethic.

Teaching students how to become contributing members of society is central to both institutions, and the strategies that work for liberal arts students can also work for incarcerated students. What are the principles of the liberal arts that are effective for all students? The SLU catalog says that open and disciplined minds are critical for citizens who can adapt to inevitable change. The key elements to fostering this in ourselves and our students is exposure to basic areas of knowledge, like chemistry, and an ability to use information logically, as well as evaluate alternative points of view. Learning how to think outside the limits of your individual experiences and gain confidence in your ability to evaluate facts is critical. Courses in chemistry take this on in a specific way. Students are asked to recognize patterns in data and use chemical principles to explain, at the molecular level, the reasons for the observed trends. Sometimes the trends conform to their expectations, but other times they must change their thinking. Repeating this exercise develops a habit of mind to be observant and evaluate with an open mind. Mark William Roche in his book Why Choose the Liberal Arts writes (1): Students obtain through the natural sciences a richer comprehension of the world. They learn to observe natural phenomena with a keen and inquisitive eye. They gain an understanding of the universe, its evolution and structure; the fundamental laws and phenomena that underlie both physical and biological systems; the natural history of our planet, solar system, and galaxy; the composition and properties of elemental forms of matter and the principles governing the activities of living systems in relationship to their environments. They learn to apply reason to evidence, to form concepts that relate to experience, and to induce laws 168

from the sequence of phenomena. They develop a hunger for data, and they learn to test their theories against reality and to see beauty and grandeur. In addition, they grasp the ways in which scientific principles and insights help to inform important issues of public policy and human welfare, and they become adept at assessing arguments that are based on scientific claims. While this description is more aspirational than the mission statement of the DOC, we can see how non-science majors at both liberal arts and correctional facilities benefit from being invited to wonder about how the world works at the atomic scale and to think about the relationship between the natural world and society. This is the magic of a liberal arts approach: you get to tap into basic human curiosity and learn how to be a more disciplined, critical thinker. Combined, an educated student remains curious about events in their life and can evaluate and act in creative and truthful ways. Students at SLU are required to fulfill several distribution requirements to meet the University’s learning goals. One learning goal is for students to see how environmental harm and power structures vary with race, income, and education and how diversity in and among groups impacts social structures. To tackle these ideas SLU, like many other liberal arts colleges, requires students to take diversity courses as one of the distribution requirements. The urgency of understanding diversity in society is evident in the divisive national conversations about incarceration, immigration, and racial profiling. Having the capacity for self-reflection and understanding the dynamics of power within and among groups is central to becoming an engaged citizen. Another learning goal at SLU is environmental literacy, which asks that students, “recognize consequences of human activities on natural systems, become aware of the forces that affect environmental policy, and understand natural systems.” International conversations about climate change exemplify the importance of environmental literacy. The diversity and environmental literacy requirements are described as separate learning goals, however, in a course like Environmental Justice, the goals become interdependent. This is a course where a chemistry professor can teach fundamental concepts of chemistry as well as how to value diversity and the environment. In this way, the course highlights how chemistry contributes to the goals of a liberal arts education beyond scientific literacy.

Course Development I teach general chemistry at SLU, a small, liberal arts college in upstate New York, and most of my students plan to major in sciences where general chemistry is a prerequisite. I decided to teach chemistry at a prison to understand the intrinsic value of my discipline beyond being a common preparatory course in college curricula. The prison where I first taught was a super maximum-security prison, and many of the men incarcerated there were serving long sentences. For these prisoners, doing everything possible to prepare for success on the outside was 169

critical, but enrolling in college after release was a long-shot. What would it mean to teach chemistry to a population with little previous education in science and with no opportunity to become a science major or pre-health student? My inspiration for designing a course for incarcerated men and non-majors came from a book called, Riches for the Poor: The Clemente course in the Humanities by Earl Shorris (2). Based on conversations with people who are poor, incarcerated or otherwise viewing society from a distance, he argues that “the poor are excluded from the circle of power; that is from citizenship.” Being a citizen depends on an individual’s ability to think reflectively and act in the public world, where power resides. To support full citizenship, then society must commit “to a dialogue of equals.” History shows that people born into privilege fail to see all people as full citizens. In the case of prison inmates, few people consider those who commit crime as equals, and citizenship is intentionally revoked. For example, incarcerated individuals convicted of a felony lose their right to vote while imprisoned and often after serving their sentence. In addition, the structure of punishment in the US is based on dehumanization, meant to clearly distinguish those who deserve citizenship and those who do not. The Thirteenth Amendment of the US constitution illustrates this point. The Amendment says it is legal to enslave another person if they have been convicted of a crime: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." (section 1) In the context of the goals of a liberal arts education where respect and compassion are valued, how to carry out crime and punishment without dehumanization is critical. Shorris argues that an individual can re-create themselves “through recognition of humanness in the expression of it by art, literature, rhetoric, philosophy, and the unique notion of freedom. At that moment, the isolation of private life ends, and politics begin.” While his perspective is that of a philosopher, I felt chemistry could provide similar opportunities for re-creation. Making all members of society able to exist as equals, in part means all people have access to foundational knowledge of that society. Not knowing that matter is made of atoms and molecules diminishes an individual’s status in society, both in how they are perceived (as not knowing or knowing) and in their personal agency manifested in an ability to understand specific issues like climate change and water quality, policy decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, and federal funding for programs like the National Science Foundation and NASA. Shorris’s belief that reflection is critical to gaining access to power is modeled by the critical thinking skills learned in a science class. Scientists collect data and then reflect on the most convincing interpretation. Sometimes their thinking changes, which influences their next steps in the study. This process overlaps well with the ways we all reflect on personal experiences in ways that make our next steps clearer. Designing this course demanded that I constantly ask, “why this particular topic?” I co-designed this first course, Small Molecules, Big Ideas, with senior chemistry major and education minor, Zak Johnson, who has since become a high school chemistry teacher. Mr. Johnson and I decided the topics should highlight fundamental principles of chemistry, include hands-on group activities 170

to engage students, and connect to society. For the topic of nuclear chemistry, students learned about the structure of the atom, detected radioactivity from a smoke alarm, and wrote a creative story about whether they would have worked on the Manhattan Project. For nanoparticles, students learned about energy and entropy as driving forces of chemical process, made food encapsulated microparticles, and wrote an essay about applications in drug-delivery and 3D printing. After teaching this course, I had an opportunity to attend a week of training at the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program (3). The foundation of the program is a curriculum based on criminal justice and issues surrounding incarceration. The model brings college students inside jails and prisons to learn as peers with incarcerated people. The Outside students are expected to model how to be a college student, while the Inside students demonstrate what it means to be incarcerated. The teachers in the program are from the humanities, many with background in criminal justice. I was the first scientist accepted to attend the training. During my interview, I was asked how teaching chemistry could address the core ideas found in the existing criminal justice curriculum. I did not yet have an answer, but I came away from training committed to designing a course that involved social justice. My initial thoughts about a possible course plan came from the movie Erin Brockovich, which I saw as a model case study. The story centers around a poor, uneducated, single mother who smelled something fishy about the paperwork she was filing for a law firm. Following up, she discovered that Cr(VI) was leaking into the water supply of the citizens of Hinkley, CA, from Pacific Gas and Electric. The residents were white, blue collar families, who were unsuspecting when Pacific Gas and Electric claimed that Cr is a natural part of the body and is therefore harmless, suppressing the fact that only Cr(III) is safe. The story is one of power imbalances and the harmful effects of toxic chemicals in the environment, and I hoped to find other topics that would allow me to address similar issues and at the same time teach foundational chemical concepts. Emily Metzger, a chemistry major who planned to become a high-school teacher, joined me in co-designing an environmental justice course for her Senior Year Experience research project. The two of us spent the next few months brainstorming case studies, collecting source material, and developing assignments. Ms. Metzger and I wanted topics of environmental justice that had a positive outcome, such as raised awareness, prompted new policies, or served justice to the responsible parties. As chemists, we sought cases involving chemical hazards. Finally, we prioritized cases where students could get a sense of the people involved. These criteria led to a list of fifteen possible cases from which we selected five with two weeks for each. Since Erin Brockovich set the tone for the idea behind the course, we knew it would be our first topic. We also felt strongly that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (4) should be included because it launched the modern environmental movement. As senator Ernest Gruening, a democrat from Alaska told Carson when she testified before a Senate subcommittee on pesticides, “Every once in a while, in the history of mankind, a book has appeared which has substantially altered the course of history (5).” Both case studies had women at the forefront, so we began to search for cases in which men played a leading role. During this search, we found the nuclear 171

disaster at Chernobyl that was caused by a series of errors where Anatoly Dyatlov ultimately pushed a risky agenda causing the disaster. The fourth case study was about ozone depletion. Mario Molina, Frank Rowland, and Paul Crutzen were central characters because of their Nobel Prize winning work on the chemistry of ozone. At this point, we had men and women leaders in our cases, we also had issues that effected a small community like in Erin Brockovich and to some degree the Chernobyl disaster, as well as global issues like the ozone layer and pesticides. For the last case study, we settled on the superfund site located on tribal lands of the Akwesasne, which was just a few miles away from the prison and literally hit close to home. The source material, Life and Death in Mohawk Country by Bruce E. Johansen (6), made a compelling case for the inherent power imbalance between the tribe whose land was being polluted and General Motors and ALCOA, the companies ultimately held responsible for polluting the land with polychlorinated biphenyls from their manufacturing plants. Next, Ms. Metzger and I set out to pair each case study with a reading to provide insight into topics like environmental ethics and social justice. Being new to the field of environmental justice, we turned to faculty colleagues in the departments of Anthropology, Philosophy, Rhetoric and Communication Studies, and Sociology for advice on potential readings. With their help, we chose A Theory of Justice by John Rawls (7) to pair with Erin Brockovich; Environmental Ethics by Holmes Rolston III (8) to accompany Silent Spring; The Rhetorical Act (9) by K.K. Campbell to go with images of the Chernobyl disaster; From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (10) by L.W. Cole and S.R. Foster with the Akwesasne superfund site and finally, Tragedy of the Commons (11) by G. Hardin to accompany the ozone hole case study. How to teach and assess the chemistry content was next. Small Molecules, Big Ideas was designed around a selection of key chemical principles, much as topics in general chemistry are selected but with more emphasis on context. In Environmental Justice, the emphasis is on chemistry of the environment and understanding its ethical implications. Chemistry topics are introduced using lecture and readings. For example, I gave one on the structure of the atom as background to understanding the toxicity of Cr(VI) versus Cr(III). Another lecture introduced bonding to help students understand differences in specific pesticides and how they interfere with phosphorylation of ADP to ATP. Some of the readings discuss chemistry. Silent Spring is particularly effective because it is written for a general audience and focuses on the chemistry and biology needed to understand pesticide contamination. Worksheets and writing assignments were used to assess chemical knowledge. Each writing assignment required students to discuss the relevant chemistry. For example, in the assignment for Erin Brockovich, students wrote a letter asking for help from someone like a community activist, attorney, or scientist to address Cr(VI) contamination in their ‘hometown’, (the ‘hometowns’ were based on real cases of Cr(VI) contamination). The assignment required an explanation of why Cr(VI) is toxic and required action. Not unlike other courses designed for non-majors, the students’ backgrounds in chemistry vary in this course. Students may have graduated from low performing high schools or be old enough that high school chemistry was decades 172

ago. Widening the gap of experience is the fact that science majors are drawn to this course, and they bring extensive background. Overall, the differences in backgrounds strengthened the course. While the Outside students generally have more background in chemistry, they have less life experience than the Inside students, who are at the very least older. The Outside students are eager to share their knowledge about chemistry. For the first writing assignment, students peer reviewed each other’s drafts. I heard many Outside students suggest ways to explain the chemistry more thoroughly. During discussions, the Inside students add depth and breadth. This was mentioned in course evaluations repeatedly, for example one Outside student said: “I have learned more about the differences among people and their perspectives in this one course than I probably have in my entire liberal arts education. This class was the first class that I was able to challenge and question an idea or solution to a problem freely without holding up a class or feeling as if I was wasting time by asking questions. Each person within the room came from different backgrounds, experiences, and have developed different life stories that added depth to our conversations that I have not experienced in a class before.” A chemist considering teaching a course like this might wonder what level of chemistry to aim for. This is a personal decision. For me, the goal is that students have genuine interest in the chemistry topics because they learn them in the context of a compelling case study. They genuinely want to know, for instance, how ozone reacts with molecules in the stratosphere to make free radicals, and by extension to learn about radicals and chemical reactions. Increasing their own understanding matters because they understand the human and environmental impacts of ozone destruction. The accompanying Tragedy of the Commons reading prompts discussion of the ethics of shared resources. Sharing resources is part of being a citizen, and students see that how they as individuals treat the environment impacts others. Understanding those impacts depends on understanding the chemistry. For example, we must understand atmospheric chemistry to know how to take action that continues to shrink the ozone hole. In this way, students learn how to become engaged citizens. There are two assessments for the ozone case study. The first is a worksheet about ozone chemistry. The second is a letter written to Milton Bradly that asks the creators of the game Life to update the game to reflect modern values like environmental conservation. Students must propose a change related to ozone and its protection and justify their proposal with ideas from Tragedy of the Commons. For instance, students might ask that players earn a tax credit for riding a bicycle instead of driving a car. The level of chemistry I teach is not comparable to a general chemistry course, but it does expose students to fundamental concepts like atomic structure, molecular bonding and reactions, in a context that makes their significance apparent. Also, students learn how scientists identify and solve problems, which gives students more respect for the scientific process and builds trust in the validity of science. 173

Beyond the chemistry content, Ms. Metzger and I discovered that the diversity of students had a significant impact on the value of the course. Because of the differences in class, race, and age in this setting, we were intentional about finding ways for students to trust each other so that we would be integrated as a learning community. The Outside students – to varying degrees – had anxiety about learning with incarcerated men. The Inside students were concerned about how they would be viewed. At the start of the semester, we met individually with each group of students and discussed concerns. In the first meeting together, the class wrote discussion rules, e.g. don’t speak when someone else is and be respectful of other people’s opinions. Throughout the semester, we did frequent small-group discussions with a mix of Inside and Outside students to help students get to know one another. On the first day of class, Ms. Metzger and I spent time doing ice breakers. The Wagon Wheel activity was the most impactful. In this activity, students sit in two concentric circles with individuals directly across from each other (Inside students sit in the outer circle to avoid the implication that the incarcerated students are being studied). We then asked questions like ‘One of the funniest things that ever happened to me was….’ and ‘The thing I’m most proud of in myself is…’ Students sitting in the outer circle rotated with a new question so that everyone had an opportunity for an exchange. This activity was mentioned in course evaluations and the final reflective essay as putting everyone at ease. One Inside student, who had taken a couple of Inside-Out courses, commented how in other classes the students seemed scared or shy when they were in the room but that, “Not one of the students in this class put out any funny vibes toward me or the rest of the Inside students and this made me feel more comfortable in this setting.” One Outside student commented about his expectations of Inside students, “Going into the first day of class, many of us Outside students were concerned that we were going to have to dominate discussion and that the inside students wouldn’t have much to say.” Another Outside student described the fear she felt, “On the night before the first day, I had a nightmare involving prisoners and a man carrying a man-made knife was chasing me through a prison. The man had killed many of the guards and I was definitely next on his list.” Good teachers strive to create a school community in their classrooms, and it can be extremely difficult to do even with a group of people who have known each other for years and have more commonalities than this class. Making all the students feel as though they were a class of people, citizens, rather than two groups of different types of students with few common ties meant that the class could have open, respectful, meaningful discussions about topics that can be controversial, difficult to talk about, and upsetting in some cases.

Current Version In the first iteration of the Environmental Justice course, the class read and discussed a chapter from Environmental Ethics by J. Rolston that describes a variety of reasons a person might value nature. Students discussed memorable 174

experiences they had in nature and then considered why they valued the experience based on the categories described by Rolston, values such as recreational, character building, aesthetic, and religious. In the first discussion, I was confronted with a personal assumption that likely would have gone undiscovered if the class took place on campus. While I and most of the Outside students had extensive experiences and connection to nature, several of the Inside students struggled to think of any memorable connection. Many had grown up in urban areas like Buffalo and New York City where nature - depending on how you try to define it (12) – existed in subtle, less apparent ways. Living in a prison diminished their interaction with nature further, though not necessarily the impact of their experiences. During the discussion, one Inside student said that when he was uneasy or upset, he would look out his window to the trees to watch them sway for comfort. Discussing nature without making differences in personal experience more explicit could marginalize some students’ because my assumption was that everyone identifies with nature. In the essay assignment based on this discussion, every Inside student did recall an experience that allowed them to explore the value of nature. In fact, because their experiences tended to be rarer and pointed, their reflections had significant depth. One Inside student agreed with Rolston’s claim that “The disappearance of any species represents a great esthetic loss for the entire world.” The student grew up in NYC and reflected on visits to the zoo both as he experienced it as a city kid and now as an incarcerated man. “Humankind has realized in some instances the beauty of nature too late and has destroyed that beauty while simultaneously attempting to admire it. As a child, trips to the zoo were a wonderfully exciting chance to see the animals, feel the fear of their ferocity, and regard with wonder their beauty. Now as an adult having experienced captivity, I do not know that I can enjoy that experience again. We have destroyed these animals’ natural environments, depleted their populations, then confined them to small areas in order to ‘protect the survival of their species’ all the while visiting and gawking at their lethargic new lives.” The connection that he makes between humans destroying habitat and then responding by caging animals in zoos is the same connection poverty and racism have with incarceration (13). In general, the Outside students used experiences that reflected the recreational and aesthetic values of nature. One Outside student described a night with the Hadzabe tribe of Tanzania during his study abroad: “As night passed and morning came, the sun slowly peaked over the ridge, kissing the green valley and waking the wildlife and myself from sleep…. We went on hunts using bow and arrows made from trees, animal tendons, and skin and rocks arrow tips, some with poison for larger game. I learned what it is like to depend on the world for the gifts it has and the beauty it holds.” 175

This experience in nature is one of admiration and connection. This example does not challenge the concept of nature like the previous example. My goal for the next iteration of the course therefore was to look at how these two experiences coexist. My University’s decision to rewrite our general education requirements prompted me to modify the course to not just expose students to diversity but also to reflect on how their views on the environment and justice depend on their social location. One of the most significant changes to the general education requirements was to the diversity requirement, which now emphasized reflection on social location (c) in addition to understanding the significance and inherent power structures (a, b). a. b. c.

an understanding of the nature and significance of diversity within and among groups; and an understanding of the dynamics of power and justice within and/or among groups or societies; and a capacity for critical self-reflection on social location, including how social location shapes human interactions.

Existing assignments fulfilled the first two requirements. For example, one of the assignments for the superfund site that affected the Akwesasne tribe was a group presentation that had students critique other superfund sites. They considered whether race and class were part of the story as it was in a reading about Kettleman City, CA, where memos were found that showed the company specifically targeted black and brown communities to dump environmental waste. Some of the question prompts for the presentation were: • • • •

What are the demographics of the people affected? Who did the polluting? Did they contribute to the clean-up? Who discovered the contamination? Are there any similarities to the Superfund site near the Akwesasne tribe? The Kettleman City story?

Seeing how less powerful members of society are disproportionally affected by environmental contamination gives students a concrete reason to think about power dynamics and justice. The third requirement (c. above) calls for reflection by students on their own social location. This is where I saw the most potential for making diversity more explicit. An existing assignment based on the readings from Silent Spring (author is a white educated female biologist) that recognizes individuals will experience the natural world differently depending on their personal experience. The prompt is below: Does nature have intrinsic value? Answer this by reflecting on your personal experience(s) with nature. The environmental ethics reading categorizes several different ways nature carries value for humans. Discuss which of the values resonate with your experience(s) with the 176

natural world and discuss which of the values you think Rachael Carson might use to explain her relationship with the natural world. In the revised course, the class discussed social location prompted by the following three questions: 1. 2. 3.

Read out the old DIV-13 (Diversity Requirement) definition and the new one and then ask: What is social location? How does social location influence, enhance, or limit our ways of thinking about the world. Why do you think the university made this a requirement? What are some advantages of being more aware of and articulate about our own social locations? What are the dangers or problems associated with not being aware of our social location?

The discussion took place on the first day of class and set a tone that everyone’s voice was distinct and mattered. This is especially powerful teaching inside a prison where dehumanization of inmates is normalized. In the first and second case studies, Erin Brockovich and Rachael Carson were viewed as protectors of the environment motivated by their own individual values and life experiences. Brockovich had a strong innate sense of right and wrong. As she describes herself in the movie, “I don’t know shit about shit, but I know the difference between right and wrong.” This, combined with her work ethic, helped her uncover information crucial to the case. The case was settled in 1996 for $333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. It also had legislative impact. Proposition 65, amended in 2012, removed chromium from the list of chemicals that present no significant risk of cancer by the route of ingestion. Rachel Carson was a trained biologist and gifted writer, which combined to make writing a book about pesticides for a general audience an ideal avenue for defining the environmental movement. Besides being female and passionate, the social locations of these two women differed in class, education, and family structure. These differences directly shaped their individual brand of activism. The second addition to the course was a comparative reading assignment. For this new assignment, students read two pairs of poems written by White and African American nature poets. First Pair: The Haunted Oak by Paul Laurence Dunbar and The Tree by Joyce Kilmer Second Pair: The beginning of the end of the world by Lucille Clifton and The arrival of the bee box by Sylvia Plath The reading assignment was given with a piece of advice from Sarah Barber, a colleague who teaches poetry and suggested the assignment: “Since poems are brief, each word in a poem carries a heavy burden, look up words you don’t know. Read slowly and multiple times to get the fullest sense of your reaction to the poem emotionally--that’s where you’ll start to find its message.” 177

We began the discussion in class by asking one or two students to read the poem. Next, we went around the room and each person said a word about their emotion. This was enough to make people feel comfortable talking about poetry even though we as a group had little background. In the first pair of poems, the subject is the same, trees. The viewpoint of the authors however could not be more different. Dunbar’s poem is a one of praise for the tree’s feminine beauty created by God: “A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray; “ Kilmer’s poem is one of grief felt by an oak tree where an African American man was lynched. “And never more shall leaves come forth On the bough that bears the ban; I am burned with dread, I am dried and dead, From the curse of a guiltless man.” The poems were both written by in the early part of the 20th Century. Social location, however, deeply affected the ideas evoked by a tree. After discussing the second pair of poems, students were asked to read Lament for Dark Peoples by Langston Hughes and write the author about a time they felt excluded from nature. As a chemistry professor, I never expected to lead a discussion about topics like those raised by these poems. Using a science class to reach into the depths of the human experience inspires me. The timing worked well for this assignment, coming just after Silent Spring, students’ awareness about the value of caring for nature was elevated. In the poem by Clifton, the reader is asked whether to consider cockroaches as part of nature. Even though cockroaches give most people the “heebie-jeebies” as several students used as their emotion, they are living creatures. Instead of pleading for their lives when a human attempted to drown the cockroaches in the kitchen sink, “they seemed to bow their sad head for us not at us.” Some found the characterization of cockroaches as pitying humans unsettling. Reading Silent Spring made the idea of using insecticides troubling because of the risk to the environment and forced us to question why humans are so desperate to kill cockroaches. Our hope was that teaching a chemistry course that made space for exploring questions of social justice would be a meaningful experience for both us and the students. Teaching this material in a prison, the very physical space in which our justice system places those that commit some types of crime, demands that students be presented with the real impact of how society conceptualizes and enacts justice, be it criminal or environmental.


Outcomes Assessing a course is a complex endeavor involving course evaluations and personal reflection. Because course evaluations are familiar to all teachers, I will highlight a few outcomes from the Environmental Justice course evaluations. The course evaluation forms ask students for numerical and written responses to comments. To the question, Taking this course has been a valuable educational experience, 68% of students strongly agreed (the other 32% agreed) compared to a university average of 39% strongly agreeing. To the question, I would recommend this course to another student, 74% strongly agreed compared to the university average of 40%. The numeric evaluations support my own assessment that the course was engaging to a broad group of students. Student written comments can help us to understand the reasons for their numerical evaluations. The most striking result in this course was how closely students’ comments matched the goals of the course. They expressed appreciation for the topic of environmental justice. As one student expressed, “This class has helped my learning by giving me a deeper understanding of chemistry and how different chemicals, along with the behavior of mankind, affects our lives and environment we live in.” Appreciation for the diversity in the classroom was common. One student observed, “Being in this diverse class really helped getting so many different perspective on what everyone is thinking from their personal background.” Assignment design was crucial because the students came with different skills, interests, and confidence levels. Also, the content integrates topics from chemistry, history, philosophy, and sociology, and assignment types needed to address several types of knowledge. Students appreciated being assessed in a variety of ways. As one student said, “I initially felt uncomfortable with my level of knowledge on chemistry, but the classroom environment allowed for an engaging discussion, open questions, and group learning.” The last assignment in the course was a reflection essay. What they chose to write about also shows how closely their most prominent experiences matched the course goals. Ms. Metzger and I chose case studies with positive outcomes to avoid overwhelming students new to the topic of environmental justice. One student majoring in environmental studies said this: “I am truly pleased about the material chosen in this course and how it was presented; this kind of reading, traditionally, can be incredibly depressing and dark, and has the proclivity to either inspire you to take action or 179

frustrate you to the point of inaction. I cannot speak for all students, but for me at least, it has done the former. By choosing case studies that have positive outlooks and possible resolutions was incredibly powerful, allowing for meaningful discussion.” Group work was emphasized so that students could benefit from each other’s knowledge and life experiences. From an Inside student, “I worry sometimes how I will fit in society after 13 years in prison, Dr. Glazier and St. Lawrence University students have shown me that if I work hard, fitting in and being productive is an attainable goal.” From an Outside student, “I was able to gain new perspectives on the topics discussed. Group discussions were my favorite aspect of the class because this allowed all the classmates to really talk about what they were thinking. It was so refreshing to see the different students interact in a way that was not judgmental and really accepting towards all the students.” Returning to what it means to be liberally educated, the overarching goal is to prepare our students for citizenship. Students were changed in diverse ways by this course. One Outside student said, “This class embodies what we, as Saints (14) believe in. It was a class that challenged us both in the classroom but also as humans…Everything was so diverse and everyone had something to contribute and add to the discussion…I feel we all grew up by ditching stereotypes, dropping everything and seeing each other as equals. This brought so much discussion and respect in the classroom that allowed everyone to speak freely and really engage in everything that we did! There were some days where I just sat and listened because I don’t think I have ever been in a class where we have gone so deep in the topics and the principles of life and drawing on so many experiences and backgrounds.” Two Inside student had this to say, “An important fact I learned in this course is that knowledge creates transition and power. These people stood up for what was a just cause they did not just settle for the bureaucracy b. s.” “This course has given me the confidence to pursue my education when I go home. I actually am seriously considering a teaching career so maybe someday I can come back to facilities like I am in now and pay this forward. There are so many able men behind these walls that just need exposure to positive learning environments.”


Summary This course is an example of how a science course can be taught with goals that reach into several aspects of a liberal education. For both the Inside and Outside students, my wish is that the course will prepare them to become contributing members of society. It is designed to expose non-majors to environmental literacy, principles of citizenship, and diversity. The inclusion of chemical topics builds students’ confidence in their ability to learn science now and in the future. The writing assignments taught students how to integrate personal experiences and multiple readings into cogent essays with a point of view. The discussion and presentation assignments prepare students to be able to discuss their ideas with others, appreciate many points of view, respect difference, and problem solve. A summary of the readings and types of assignments are summarized in Table 2. Assignment details are available upon request. Working with two education majors had many positive impacts on course design. My two students served as trouble-shooting partners, developed assignments, and graded assessments. Co-teaching in this way makes implementation of a complex course easier and more fun, as well as giving them additional teaching experience as they head into the job market. The students attracted to this course are grateful for the experience because the course design aligns with core values. For the Outside students, being curious and enthusiastic about unique experiences are core values. The inconvenience of being off campus, up to a couple of hours of travel time alone, is enough to deter many. The students that do enroll are dedicated. They may enroll because they are curious about chemistry, a nontraditional classroom, or the nature of the prison system. Their curiosity and openness brings them to the course, and, in turn, their inquisitive nature brings out the best in the course. The Inside students who choose to participate in college courses standout from their peers too. They are exceptionally dedicated to making positive changes in their life. They step outside of their comfort zone to learn unfamiliar material with people that seem, at first, very different. The courses give them applicable skills and knowledge to use once they serve their sentences, as well as redefining their identity to include college student. Education and vocational training are the only two factors that have positive correlations with decreased recidivism rates (15). The men in our course know these statistics and look to learn and get involved so they can better themselves and the society they will one day be ready to rejoin. Finally, a note about creating a non-traditional classroom for liberal arts students. Teaching a course inside a prison may not be feasible or of interest to professors excited about the topic of environmental justice. There are other ways to include diverse perspectives, which sets this course apart. For example, we have a group called SOAR in my community that creates educational programming for retirees. Military or veteran groups are also abundant and would be another way to diversify the classroom. Additionally, technology may be employed to bring groups together virtually. In any of these variations, the primary goal remains to teach a course where students learn to trust science, engage with diversity, and give voice to their ideas. 181

Table 2. Summary of Readings and Assignments from Spring Semester of 2017 Meetings

Supplementary Reading Title

Case Study



Separate meetings for Inside and Outside students




Icebreakers and introductions

Syllabus and diversity requirement


Erin Brockovich

Carcinogenic CrVI

A Theory of Justice



2 worksheets, essay Silent Spring


Environmental Ethics worksheet, group presentation, essay

182 9


Nature Poetry

Nature and social location

The Haunted Oak & The Tree; The beginning of the end of the world & The arrival of the bee box; Lament for Dark Peoples 2 response papers




North Dakota Access Pipeline

Oil pipelines

From the Ground Up 2 group presentations


Atmospheric chemistry

Tradgey of the Commons worksheet, essay

Group Project


Various poster presentation

References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12.

13. 14. 15.

Roche, M. W. Why Choose the Liberal Arts?; University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame, IN, 2010; pp 17−18. Shorris, E. Riches for the Poor: The Clemente course in the humanities; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York, 1997; pp 99−100. About the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program. URL (3/31/17). Carson, R. Silent Spring; Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, MA, 1962. Griswold, E. How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement; New York Times. (9/21/2012). Johansen, B. E. Life and Death in Mohawk Country; Fulcrum Publishing: Golden, CO, 1993; pp xxi-xxxi; 1−19. Rawls, J. A Theory of Justice; Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1971; pp 3−24. Rolston, H., III Environmental Ethics; Temple University Press: Philadelphia, PA, 1988; pp 1−32. Campbell, K. K. The Rhetorical Act; Wadsworth Publishing Company: Belmont, CA, 2002; pp 3−17. Cole, L. W., Foster, S. R. From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement; NYU Press: New York, 2000; pp 1−18. Hardin, G. Tragedy of the Commons. Science. 1968, 162, 1243–1248. During the discussion, a student asked what is nature and after many attempts to answer, we all felt less certain about what nature is exactly. An Inside student suggested we read a definition from the dictionary. Resources are limited in a prison classroom, but dictionaries are readily available. This copy of Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines nature as “the external world in its entirety.” Suffice it to say we concluded that we were going to have to settle for a working definition that would be unique to individuals based on their individual experiences. Alexander, M. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness; The New Press: New York, 2010. Saints is a way of referring to St. Lawrence University students. Davis, L. M. “Education and Vocational Training in Prisons Reduces Recidivism, Improves Job Outlook.” Rand Corporation. Aug. 22, 2013. URL (8/3/17).


Chapter 11

Making Connections to the Liberal Arts College Mission: Exploring Identity and Purpose in a Chemistry Course Amanda S. Harper-Leatherman* Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Fairfield University, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, Connecticut 06824, United States *E-mail: [email protected]

A forensic science course for non-majors was recently redesigned to be taught to a group of sophomores taking part in a living and learning dormitory community known as the Sophomore Residential College Program at Fairfield University. This program gives students the opportunity to explore identity, community, and purpose through mentoring, retreats, activities and focused courses. The redesigned forensics course focused on what is individualizing about physical evidence at crime scenes to give students a physical, chemical, and biological approach to considering self-identity. Topics included fingerprinting, blood typing, hair analysis, DNA analysis, and drug analysis. Students worked through many laboratory experiments to solve a mock crime but also were given opportunities to explore concepts and topics through response papers, presentations, and discussions. An optional interdisciplinary forum related to a classical hair exhibit also complemented the exploration of identity in the course.

Introduction to Forensic Science as a ‘Core Science’ Course All undergraduate students at Fairfield University, a Jesuit school with a broad liberal arts based curriculum, are required to take two science courses to graduate out of about twenty-two required general education core curriculum courses. Each of the science departments offer stand-alone courses that are usually topical in nature and that do not lead to other courses that are known as ‘core science © 2017 American Chemical Society

courses’. In the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, some examples are a Chemistry of Nutrition course and a Chemistry, Energy & Environment course, in addition to the Introduction to Forensic Science course discussed in this chapter. In general, core science courses should teach students about the scientific method and experimental design used to solve problems, should give students some experience collecting and/or analyzing data, and should help students understand how to use scientific reasoning to assess the validity of claims or theories (1). The Introduction to Forensic Science course was developed based on knowledge gained at a National Science Foundation Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Community of Scholars (cCWCS) workshop on Forensic Science (2, 3). The course has been taught four times by the author, including one time as a Sophomore Residential College course. In the course, the students learn about the scientific techniques used for the analysis of common types of physical evidence encountered at crime scenes by doing laboratory investigations to solve a mock crime set up at the start of the semester. The students, therefore, get hands-on experience with the scientific method, with collecting data, and with drawing conclusions from data to fulfill the objectives of a core science course. The learning objectives for the course are: • • •

• • •

• • • • • •

Define forensic science, the roles of a forensic scientist, and describe the services of a typical comprehensive crime laboratory. Characterize physical evidence and distinguish different physical and chemical forms of evidence. Recognize many scientific and identification techniques utilized in the analysis of crime scenes, for example, fingerprinting, blood typing analysis, and DNA analysis. Describe the basic principles underlying the scientific and identification techniques used at crime scenes, and use these principles in the analysis of physical evidence. Explain the theories involved with determining the value of evidence or the value of the analysis of evidence. Understand and conduct steps to properly examine a mock crime scene and collect evidence. Use the scientific method to solve a mock crime, including forming a hypothesis, collecting data, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions from the data. Analyze the value and reliability of scientific results. Evaluate the power and the limitations of science with regards to forensic study. Communicate laboratory findings and conclusions in written reports and in oral presentations. Explain and analyze the results of case studies and express arguments for and against a case study result. Express the legal considerations at a crime scene, with regards to drugs/ DNA, and in regards to admissibility of evidence in court. Work effectively with other people to learn concepts in class and to solve a mock crime. 186

The course meets twice per week (75 minutes each meeting) in a 14 week semester except for some weeks with only one meeting due to holidays. Class time is used for lecture and laboratory experiments. Out of twenty-five class days, about fifteen are used for laboratory work. Based on the amount of labwork performed, the course is capped as if it were a lab course at 16 students. This schedule is greatly facilitated by a classroom that accommodates a variety of activities such as lecture presentations, discussions, and labwork. At Fairfield University, a laboratory room was renovated into such a space in 2008 with stationary benchtop tables with sinks arranged around a presentation area on one side of the room and movable benchtop tables available on the other side of the room. The room arrangement allows for great flexibility in use for labwork, presentations, activities, or discussions (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Flexible classroom with spaces that can be used for laboratory, presentations, discussions, and other activities. After spending time learning background material about forensics, physical evidence, and crime scene analysis in the first three to four weeks of the semester using the Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science textbook by Richard Saferstein as a guide (4), the majority of the semester is spent learning about and getting experience with specific types of physical evidence and their associated analytical techniques in order to solve the mock crimes. The teaching involves lecturing and discussions to explore the background and underlying scientific principles behind the forensic techniques supplemented by homework assignments in which students are asked to write short response papers about the content or related cases often to help students think about the material in a 187

broader context. Discussion and analysis of real life case studies gives the course material important relevance. As mentioned earlier, about fifteen class days are used for students to learn about evidence and techniques through laboratory experiments as they work to solve their mock crimes. About five types of physical evidence analysis techniques can be taught and performed by students per semester. Techniques have included fingerprint analysis, blood spatter analysis, ink chromatography, drug analysis, glass analysis, blood typing, microscopic hair analysis, and DNA fingerprinting. Active learning is a key part of the course as the students take analyzing mock crime evidence into their own hands throughout the semester during scheduled laboratory experiments. Evidence shows that active learning strategies in the classroom help students perform better on exams and on other assessments (5). To organize the mock crime analysis for the semester, the class is split into three groups of five to six students per group. A different mock crime is planned for each group to take place around the fifth week of the semester after much of the introductory material has been taught. A day of the class schedule is designated for mock crime analysis. Prior to this day, the students are given some time to get together with their groups to assign mock crime scene investigation roles including photographer, sketch artist, evidence collector(s), notetaker, and fingerprint duster. A discussion is facilitated to make sure all groups understand the types of evidence to look for and how to fulfill the various roles. Ahead of the designated mock crime analysis class day, mock evidence is planted for each group in three locations adjacent to the lecture/laboratory room including two storerooms and an adjacent laboratory. One or two colleagues or volunteer students are recruited to act out some portion of the mock crime for the students in each group. Then towards the start of the designated mock crime analysis day, the class is notified of the ‘incidents’ taking place in the nearby spaces as each mock crime scene’s actor calls out for help or comes to class to announce that something needs to be investigated. The three groups then split up to investigate each of the three mock crimes and begin their work to document their mock crime scenes and to collect evidence. An example of one of the mock crime scenarios that has been used in the course is a student found unconscious on the floor of a storeroom near a rolling ladder with broken glass, blood spatter, unknown white powder, a crumpled note, and hair and fingerprint evidence around the fallen student. After the student actor comes to, she explains how she was working in the storeroom as part of her workstudy as a chemistry stockroom worker and was attacked from behind. When asked who might have done this, she explains a fight she had with her boyfriend about a cheating incident with another female student. A few days later, further information is given to the students assigned to this mock crime indicating that the two students mentioned were questioned and said that the fallen student is dishonest and probably fell from the ladder on her own and wanted to make up a story to blame them for the incident. Therefore, the students assigned to this mock crime have the job to use the evidence collected to try to determine whether someone (and who) attacked the fallen student or if the fall was an accident. Over the course of the semester, as each new evidence analysis technique is taught, time to practice with the technique is built into the schedule prior to analyzing collected mock crime evidence with the newly learned technique. 188

After each analysis, the students write reports describing their results and the conclusions that can be drawn from the results concerning the mock crimes. By the end of the semester, each group has analyzed the range of evidence collected from the mock crimes. Each group then puts all the analyses together to draw some final conclusions about what occurred at each mock crime. The groups present a summary of all of their results and conclusions as oral presentations for the class in the last week of the semester. The grading breakdown for the course is 10% class participation, 10% homework, 25% laboratory reports, 5% group presentations, 20% midterm exam, and 30% final comprehensive exam.

Residential College Program at Fairfield University An important aspect of Fairfield University is its identification as a Jesuit university. One of the main goals of a Jesuit education is not only to educate students but to educate them with a goal to serve others and to act for the greater good (6). The Jesuit education is known for being based on Ignatian pedagogy in which experience, reflection, and action are a continual part of the learning process. In addition, as a Jesuit school, Fairfield also works to care for the whole student, as described in the idea, ‘cura personalis’. Faculty and staff work to help students develop as whole people and not simply as students with certain academic inclinations (7). The Sophomore Residential College Program at Fairfield University naturally grew out of the Jesuit values of the school. However, although the program resonates with Fairfield’s Jesuit mission, this type of program is not unique to Jesuit schools and is a ‘living and learning’ program similar to other such programs across the country at a wide variety of schools (8–13). The Fairfield program offers a way for sophomore students to deeply engage with developing as whole people and to integrate all they are learning in their broad-based liberal arts education by being part of a community of students who are interested in exploring questions of identity, community, and purpose (14). Oftentimes, ‘living and learning’ programs have been developed across the country for first-year students. The Residential College program at Fairfield focuses on sophomores to cater to the specific academic and social needs students have after the first ‘orientation’ year of college including more serious consideration of majors, careers, social relationships, and identity (15). Students live in proximity to each other within the dorms, they take one class each semester of the sophomore year designated as a Residential College course with other students in the program, and they participate in monthly meetings led by adult mentors as well as occasional retreats, dinners, and service projects. The opportunities for reflection and learning about identity, community, and vocation help students develop as individuals and as a group and give students the confidence and sense of responsibility needed to become leaders and change agents in the world. There are currently three different residential colleges each with a theme: Ignatian, Creative Life, and Service for Justice. Three overarching questions guide the year-long reflection for each community. All three colleges explore, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Whose am I?’ and then each college has its own vocation related question, 189

‘Who am I called to be?’ (Ignation), ‘How am I called to serve justice?’ (Service for Justice), and ‘How do I live a creative and examined life?’ (Creative Life). The outcomes that students can expect by being a part of each community vary based on the community theme, but some common outcomes for students taking part in the program are to develop personal awareness, identify passions and begin to pursue them, develop meaningful relationships, become reflective, community-oriented individuals, and consider self-reflection and learning as a life-long process. Residential College courses are a significant part of the program helping students make connections between their academic learning and the mentored self-reflection happening in their monthly residence hall meetings. The opportunity exists for students to share what they are learning in class with other students and mentors within the residence hall and for faculty to use the residence hall to connect with students in a different way to enhance learning. In general, the courses designated as Residential College courses should be designed or modified in some way to address the goals and one or more of the overarching questions of the Residential Colleges. Residential College faculty are encouraged to use Ignatian pedagogy such as opportunities for student reflection and experiential learning whenever appropriate to tie in with the reflective learning they are doing in the residence halls. Faculty can also try to tie in awareness of residence hall events into their courses when appropriate and are encouraged to enhance the student living and learning experience by organizing activities within the residence halls when possible. Research has shown that the integration of living and learning is greatly enhanced when faculty engage with students within the residence halls (12). Some examples of activities that Residential College faculty have organized within the residence halls for their courses are conducting class sessions, office hours, or review sessions, informally advising students, showing movies related to a course, and hosting social or informal gatherings with students. As a faculty member, there are opportunities and advantages to teaching a Residential College course that do not exist with other teaching situations. For instance, it is an advantage to teach students who have engaged in this program, as it has been a personal decision for each student to take part in this intentional community demonstrating a level of motivation and academic commitment that the average student may not possess. Faculty have the unique opportunity to promote intentional learning beyond the classroom in this program, to share resources and ideas with other Residential College faculty, and to make use of programmatic funding to enhance courses with field trips, guest speakers, or other out-of-classroom activities.

Teaching Introduction to Forensic Science in the Residential College Program As mentioned above, teaching a course in the Residential College program involves designing or modifying the course in some way to address the program goals and one or more of the overarching questions of the Residential Colleges. All the other goals of a course stay the same and each course still fulfills whatever curricular requirement it was originally designed to fulfill. The Introduction to 190

Forensic Science course was taught in the Residential College program in Fall 2015, and it remained a core science course with all course goals intact. New goals were simply added and certain aspects of the course were emphasized over others. All the Residential College fall courses are typically designed to make sure at least some aspect of the course addresses the guiding question, ‘Who am I?’ Spring courses then focus on the other two guiding questions to help students work through the guided reflection on the questions in a systematic way throughout the year. Many Residential College courses may come at the question of, ‘Who am I?’ from a philosophical, religious or humanist approach as students consider their backgrounds, upbringings, relationships, passions and futures and how these intertwine with examples from philosophy, religion, or history, for example that they may learn about in class. However, it is also possible to come at the ‘Who am I?’ question from a basic scientific, physical, chemical and/or biological perspective and the Introduction to Forensic Science Residential College course helps students do just that. A scientifically focused ‘Who am I?’ question naturally aligns with the Introduction to Forensics course as much of forensics is concerned with physical evidence related to human identification. A major goal of forensics is to help reconstruct and determine crime scene events from physical evidence and often a big part of this reconstruction is identifying a victim and/or a perpetrator. Therefore, the Residential College Introduction to Forensic Science course is focused primarily on learning about the analysis of pieces of evidence that are specific to human identification including fingerprint analysis, blood typing, microscopic hair analysis, and DNA analysis. In addition, drug analysis, or unknown powder analysis, is also included due to the influence of drug use on human behavior and the societal, medical, and legal aspects of acceptable use. Some of the specific scientific active learning objectives are to use fingerprint development and identification techniques, to microscopically identify blood type through simulated antibody/antigen reactions, to microscopically examine the cuticle, cortex and medulla of hair strands, to use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis to compare short tandem repeat regions of DNA, and to use preliminary screening drug identification tests. In addition to focusing the course primarily on evidence used for human identification, the analysis of each piece of physical evidence is also taught to help students understand what is physically, chemically, and biologically common about the evidence to all humans and what on the other hand can be unique about the evidence from person to person. In this way, students can try to put into perspective what they have in common with other humans and what may make them individual from a scientific perspective. As an example, part of the semester is spent learning about fingerprinting and most people are aware that fingerprints can be used to help determine who may have been present at a crime scene. But instead of delving straight into the specifics of how to match a fingerprint with a person, the discussion first involves the aspects of fingerprints that are common to all humans. All invisible prints from fingers can contain some combination of fatty acids, proteins and salts and so these compounds are defined and explained to be universal classes of chemical compounds that are 191

common to all humans and animals in general. While this kind of discussion would be appropriate whether this class were taught for the Residential College or not, because the Residential College students are immersed in the question of ‘Who am I?’ emphasizing the concepts of common and individual characteristics can naturally be more meaningful for these students. Once students learn about the chemical make-up of invisible fingerprints, the discussion then turns to learning about the patterns contained in fingerprints. Again, emphasis is placed on what is common and what is individualizing about the patterns. There are three common patterns that all fingerprints fall into, but it is the more detailed aspects of the fingerprints that make them unique to individuals. It is a goal for students to learn about the common classifications and the individual details in fingerprints in order to compare fingerprints found at their mock crime scenes to those of suspected mock criminals. The assessments and grading for the Residential College Introduction to Forensic Science course have remained the same compared to the course not taught for the Residential College. The homework writing assignments work particularly well in the Residential College course to help students delve deeper into some of the topics especially as they relate to questions of identity or the human side of science. Students are asked to read articles on certain topics and write one to two page response papers about three or four times throughout the semester. An example of an assignment given towards the start of the semester is to consider what the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) effect is, if it seems to be real, and if so, if it is good or bad for society. Another example given during the DNA unit is to consider if other factors besides genetics determine identity and what subset of the population would be appropriate to include in a DNA database. The students complete the assignments and submit on the course management system, Blackboard, prior to class and then the first 15-20 minutes of class are used to have a discussion about the topics to help consider the different perspectives and points of view. These assignments help students put what they are learning into a broader perspective to consider the true possibilities and limitations of the science. Residential College course faculty are encouraged to help students make connections between course material and events on campus to help integrate living and learning whenever possible. In the fall of 2015, a special exhibit was on display at the Fairfield University Art Museum entitled, “Hair in the Classical World (16).” The exhibit focused on hair arrangement in ancient Greece, Cyprus and Rome and its meaning in terms of identity, wealth, social status, ritual, and divine iconography. The exhibit made a nice connection between information students in the Residential College Introduction to Forensic Science course were learning about microscopic properties of hair related to identity and other aspects of hair related to identity. Public faculty panels related to different aspects of the exhibit were organized to spur discussion related to the art in conjunction with the exhibit. The author was a member of a panel entitled, “Science, Health and Marketing of Hair,” and presented material related to the basic morphology of hair and what kinds of questions can and cannot be answered with microscopic hair analysis such as species identification, age determination, gender determination, etc. Students were encouraged to attend the panel discussion and were offered 192

extra credit for attending and writing a response discussing what hair means to identity from either an emotional, social, or scientific perspective.

Outcomes and Future Plans Overall, the response to the Residential College version of the Introduction to Forensic Science course by the students was positive with students commenting most frequently on their end-of-semester course evaluations that the mock crime scene analysis and associated labwork were most helpful to their learning. The students performed well on the midterm and final exams as well as the other assessments throughout the semester. The labwork definitely seemed to help the students meet the scientific learning objectives, bringing the topics to life for them and giving them hands-on practice developing and identifying fingerprints, identifying blood types, using hairs for species identification, using PCR and electrophoresis for DNA analysis, and using chemical tests for preliminary drug identification. At least one student commented that the professor connected the material back to the Residential College goals, but it would have been nice to see more students comment on this aspect of the course. The course will be offered as a Residential College course again in Fall 2017 and the plan will be to make the connections to the Residential College ‘Who am I?’ theme even more obvious by tailoring the writing response papers to this topic more clearly and designing the mock crimes to more specifically focus on unknown person identification. A final exam review session was held for the class in the residence hall, and this will be repeated in Fall 2017 with a residence hall midterm exam review session added as well. In addition, a class field trip to a forensic institute in the vicinity will be planned to enhance the out-of-class experience for the students.

Conclusion Redesigning the Introduction to Forensic Science core science course for the Sophomore Residential College made it possible to expose students to the scientific perspective of who they are in addition to the traditional liberal arts perspective. The topic of forensics was a natural fit to incorporate concepts of identity from a scientific perspective because of the many human identification techniques used to analyze physical evidence. Students learned about what is possible with forensics always coming back to the questions of how all humans are similar and how they can be individualized.

Acknowledgments The author wishes to thank Dr. Marice Rose for her leadership of the academic portion of the Sophomore Residential College program at Fairfield University and for including Introduction to Forensic Science in the program. The author also wishes to thank the editors of this volume for the invitation to submit a manuscript and the reviewers for their advice. 193

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Editors’ Biographies Garland Crawford Dr. Garland Crawford is earned his B.A. from Mercer University and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. He is currently an Associate Professor at Mercer University in Macon, GA, where he teaches in the General Chemistry and Biochemistry sequences and in the Great Books program. His current research interests include the regulation of protein function through post-translational modification and the methods that students use to learn and incorporate technical language when exposed to a new field of study.

Kathryn Kloepper Dr. Kathryn Kloepper is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Mercer University in Macon, GA. She obtained her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after earning her B.S. at the University of Dallas. She regularly teaches General Chemistry, Quantitative Analysis, and courses in the Great Books general education program. Her current research with undergraduates focuses on the characterization of biosurfactants. She also has on-going scholarship of teaching and learning projects in the areas of bioanalytical chemistry and online learning.

© 2017 American Chemical Society


Author Index Bishop, N., 113 Caldwell, R., 153 Crawford, G., 1 Czegan, D., 27 Davis, K., 133 Dukerich, L., 71 Glazier, S., 167 Harper-Leatherman, A., 185 Hayes, C., 99 Kabrhel, J., 27 Kloepper, K., 1 Mann, M., 45

Megowan-Romanowicz, C., 71 Meredith, J., 113 Metzger, E., 167 Miller, D., 27 Mitchell, D., 113 Morris, J., 113 Morrisson, M., 11 Posthuma-Adams, E., 71 Strollo, C., 133 Sykes, D., 11 Vickers, E., 153


Subject Index C Chemistry and the liberal arts approach, introduction chapters, overview, 5 faculty development, opportunities, 4 liberal arts, chemistry’s place, 1 liberal arts chemists, development, 2 Chemistry course, exploring identity and purpose Fairfield University, Residential College Program, 189 forensic science, introduction, 185 flexible classroom with spaces, 187f mock crime analysis, 188 forensic science, teaching introduction, 190 outcomes and future plans, 193 Chemistry infographics, 113 assessment results and discussion, 121 assessment quiz and associated scores, 123t final assessment and peer review, rubric used, 122t assignment details assignment description, 118 instruction, 119 learning outcomes, 117 scaffolding assignments/activities, 120 future work, 129 introduction assignment overview, 114 creativity, 116 information literacy, 115 motivation, 114 student work and installation, 124 acid rain, chemistry, 128f Bradford, Hannah, honey, 129f chemistry infographics, installation, 125f handwarmers, chemistry, 127f Varela, Amber, bioluminescence, 126f

E Environmental justice course development, 169 current version, 174 introduction, 167

SLU, sample objectives and missions, 168t outcomes, 179 summary, 181 readings and assignments, summary, 182t

H High school and university chemistry classroom, liberal arts reading strategies implementation, additional ideas, 160 literacy challenges, method one assignment, relative informality, 156 background, 155 enhance scientific literacy, 157 outcomes, 157 overview and implementation, 155 literature circles, method two, 158 literature passages to use in lecture, 163 recommended reading, 162 Humanities and natural sciences, course, 11 course assignments, 20 curricular and institutional obstacles and opportunities, 22 general education curriculum, science and literature, 13 pedagogical approach, 16

L Let the students do the talking, 71 conclusion build good discourse management habits, 94 choose good tasks, 93 implications for instruction, 93 set board meeting expectations, 94 watch and listen, 94 increasing complexity, particle models, 76 MI learning environment, design, 77 classroom culture, 83 models, MI progression, 78t whiteboard-mediated discourse, 82 modeling instruction, brief history, 72 modeling method, 73 cognition, theories, 74 information processing theories, 75


MI for chemistry, 74 sense-making, 84 developing discourse habits and skills, 86 managing collaborative sense-making, 91 modeling tasks, 88 particle diagram of a copper (II) chloride solution, particle diagram, 84f representations, role, 89 water molecules, orientation, 85 whiteboarding, 90 Liberal arts mission across chemistry curricula Seton Hill University inorganic chemistry, 31 institution and mission, background, 28 instrumental analysis, 30 introductory coursework, 29 outreach activities, 35 physical chemistry, 29 senior capstone, 35 University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan general chemistry project, pseudoscience, 36 institution and mission, background, 36 organic chemistry assignments and projects, 37 philosophy, guest lectures, 39 PseudoBS Meter, 37f second semester video project, 38

P Problem-based learning (PBL), chemistry curriculum introductory level, 135 chemical science, project library, 136t periodic table, stories, 137 project-based learning, outcomes, 138 student responses, percentage, 141t PBL development and implementation, 147 upper level, problem-based learning, 141 blended learning techniques, implementation, 143 course, scope, 142 end-of-semester survey, summary of student responses, 145t student survey, results, 146t upper level, outcomes, 144

U Undergraduate biochemistry curriculum, incorporating ethics chemistry students, importance of teaching ethics, 45 course content, 53 academic ethics, cultural differences, 63 animal experimentation, bioethics history, 54 bioethics terminology, 54t Guatemala STD study, 58 guilty by association, 62 Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells, 59 human experimentation, 56 human research subjects, regulations, 57 national priorities list, selected superfund sites, 65t research lab, regulations on animals, 55 superfund sites, background, 64 Tuskegee Syphilis study, 57 Wakefield debacle, 61 course design, 49 chemistry students ethics training, 50 ethics lectures, 51 learning objectives and course assessments, 52 ethics in biochemistry, learning objectives, 52t what is ethics? academic ethics, 47 bioethics, 47 research ethics, 47 why put ethics in biochemistry?, 48 ethics research, summary, 49t

V Visual art techniques in an interdisciplinary chemistry and art course Columbus Museum of Art, 99 observational techniques used with visual art, 101 INST 2408, typical coverage, 102t ODIP, 102 see-think-wonder, 103 other visual art techniques and resources introductory reading on science and art, 109 STEM students, 108


ionic and molecular compounds, appearance, 105t using ODIP with structural models, 104

visual art techniques, chemistry-related applications independent experiment, using see-think-wonder to design, 106