Authentic and Meaningful Work in the Classroom

To encourage students to find meaning in their education, I develop projects in which they can contribute authentic products to a broader community through their classroom assignments. By allowing students to engage in authentic, meaningful work through contributing community resources (CoRe’s) we show students how they can use their education to make a positive impact on society.

Collaborating with Undergraduates to Contribute Pedagogical CoRe’s

In Classroom Courses: The price of textbooks has increased at a rate higher than medical costs. These high costs are prohibitive to education. To both decrease the cost of educational resources and to help others do the same, students in CHEM 342 at Saint Mary’s College use and build upon a Bioinorganic Chemistry LibreText. Students apply principles of biochemistry and inorganic chemistry in a capstone project in which they develop narrated molecular movies, new LibreText  Articles, and 3D print files that are shared publicly on YouTube, LibreText, and Shapeways. Students use these materials to teach each other how bioinorganic chemical principles are applied to specific systems in biology.

In Laboratory Courses: Although I consider student coauthorship on peer-reviewed publication to be an important type of contributing to CoRe’s, another way that laboratory courses can engage students in CoRe contributions is through development of pedagogical videos to teach specific methods and techniques in the laboratory. An example of this strategy, as well as resources to facilitate similar efforts, are found on the course page for CHEM 361/2 (ProLab).

Authentic Research in the Classroom

How do we teach students what scientists really do? Let them do it! To engage students in real science, I integrate my undergraduate research program into the CHEM 361/2 (ProLab) laboratory courses. Through these courses, undergraduate students collaborate to design experiments, test hypotheses, and to generate real, publishable data. These course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) allow students to participate in true science and to become coauthors on publications in peer-reviews journals.