Incorporating Student-Designed Research Projects in the Chemistry Curriculum
Curriculum, hands-on learning/manipulatives, HPLC, interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary, laboratory instruction, problem solving/decision making, undergraduate research, upper-division undergraduate
Although many chemistry students at small liberal arts colleges participate in undergraduate research projects with faculty members, they do not get much experience framing their own research questions and designing their own projects, which is an important part of science. We have implemented a developmental process to help students design and execute their own research projects in a two-course sequence: seminar in the fall and an integrated laboratory in the January term as a capstone experience in the chemistry curriculum. In seminar, students read scientific literature to generate an unanswered question that becomes the basis for a project proposal. Students then compare and contrast various methods to answer the question and propose a project. In the integrated laboratory, students execute the project where they troubleshoot experiments, collect and interpret data, and draw conclusions. Assessment of final papers and student course evaluations indicated that the students met the above goals. Overall, this educational experience can be implemented at other small liberal arts colleges and elements of this project could be adapted at a larger college or university.
Journal of Chemical Education
Iimoto, D. S.; Frederick, K. A., Incorporating Student-Designed Research Projects in the Chemistry Curriculum. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88 (8), 1069-1073.