MACTLAC 2009

The 2009 meeting of the Midwest Association for Chemistry Teachers at Liberal Arts Colleges (MACTLAC) was held at Hope College. The theme this year was “Integration of Research into Teaching: Improving Learning statesmlThrough Research.” Plenary sessions were led by Lorna Jarvis (Hope), Nancy Kerner (U of MI), and Don Wink (UIC).  Of most interest to me were the opportunities for inquiry and research rich experiments to be included in the undergraduate laboratory experience. Nancy Kerner (Author of “Guided Inquiry Experiments for General Chemistry: Practical Problems and Application”) mentioned in her presentation that U of MI general chemistry students compile and analyze their data as part of the lab report. The compilation and analysis of class data is a topic that I have discussed in previous posts. Don Wink’s presentation on the Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education (CASPiE) reported on the continuing success of this project to introduce real-time research activities into first and second-year laboratory courses. An interesting aspect of the CASPiE approach is that even though a CASPiE project does displace several topic-appropriate experiments that reinforce class subject material, the student’s academic performance does not seem to suffer because of that. All in all, there are many resources available for instructors to use inquiry and research-rich laboratory materials even if they do not want to completely overhaul their curriculum.

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