Physical Chemistry

Physical chemistry

Real Life Applications

Relate material to real-world applications, for example, the ‘Particle in a box’ model for cyanine dyes.

Link to Particle in a Box PDF

Everyday Life Examples

Use things from everyday life. Things that they’re going to be interested in - solar energy, or designer drugs. So it’s mixing up a bit of everyday life with things that make up the interests of the majority of the students and that they are going to find fits with their future studies.

Group work - Strong Students Help Weaker Students

Do a lot of group work in lectures where students help each other. Randomly allocate them, so the students are in groups which are a mixture of strong people and weak people. The strong people can help the weaker people. The students are actually very good at doing that, it gives you another set of people in the class to help you.

Mix the Students Up

Mix up who the students work with. They’ll sit where they choose in the lecture theatre and then turn them around so they work with people behind them. In that sense even if they’ve sat next to their friend, by turning around, or working randomly with the people in front or people behind, you can mix them up a little bit.

Student Discussions

Make the students think about the ideas themselves. Have them talk amongst themselves about it. If there’s too much lecturer in the lecture it just washes over them after five to ten minutes. They need to have a break, think about the problems, do a couple of problems and talk amongst themselves. That seems to keep them engaged, especially with the variety of students in the class. It keeps their attention. Lecture for five or ten minutes and use work sheets, which they pick up as they come in.

Student Response Devices

Use response devices. In the larger first year classes you can use socratic mobile phone quizzes or other technology to get responses from the whole class. Also you can pass around the microphone to hear their answers to the questions. But it’s often the extroverts who will volunteer to do that. Sometimes it can give you the wrong impression of the class, because the ones who are responding are the ones that understand it. Whereas the ones who don’t understand it are keeping quiet. So the response devices are quite a good way of just trying to get a better picture of the whole class.

Multiple Projectors to Connect Concepts

Use multiple projection screens simultaneously. Move between screens, explaining concepts separately and then linking them together.


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