OneNewThing: Creating Community in Chemistry Lab
Finding a sense of belonging in a chemistry class is one factor in facilitating a positive experience in a first-year college student. In order to build a sense of feeling like part of a group along with ownership of class material, I provided an opportunity for first-year students to teach their peers one subject in General Chemistry Lab II in Winter 2018.
In January, first-year students were asked to identify and write down on a sheet of paper one topic they felt they would be comfortable teaching to the class. Toward the end of the quarter, the students then taught their chosen topic to the small groups that they worked with throughout the quarter. This allowed them the opportunity to rigorously study a topic that they were interested in as well as learn from, and provide feedback to, the other students. The students were asked to provide three pieces of feedback after each teaching session: one thing they learned from listening to their classmates’ presentations, one thing they felt their classmate did really well, and one thing they felt their classmate could improve upon. Using the same groups during the quarter allowed them to feel very comfortable with each other by this point and led to successful teaching sessions and good feedback. Following a similar exercise in Fall 2017, one student inquired whether this fun-activity would be repeated in Spring 2018.