Student Comments Spring 2009

This week I read through the student comments for the Spring 2009 semester. I have just finished posting them on the OChemOnline wiki. It was fun to read how the personality of the students came out in their comments. Some are self-depreciating – “don’t do the same stupid thing I did.” Others are analytical – “this is serious stuff.” Others are entertaining – “don’t stir your solution with your thermometer. It will blow up!” General observations: 1) Students are very time conscious. They don’t like to waste time. They like time-saving tips. 2) Students are very concerned about the mechanics of the experiment. In part, this was original thought that I wanted to elicit with the student comments project. Actually performing the experiment is different than reading about the experiment, writing about the experiment, or even teaching the experiment. These kinds of technical observations are the kind of things that comes through personal activities and careful observation. 3) There were a few “I wonder” type of comments but not many. This is definitely another level of the experimental process that is challenging to attain. However, I think we instructors should definitely strive to draw out these kinds of reflections. This is what most of use career chemists find interesting about chemistry. We can ask questions, and use the experimental process to find answers. And invariably along the way a lot more questions come up that are interesting to try and answer as well.

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