Analytical Chemistry

Analytical chemistry

An Active Environment

I don’t like to be in a position where I’m stood at the front talking for 50 minutes. I like to be a in a position where I’m engaging with students, where they’re engaging with each other, where there’s a buzz, where there’s things happening, and it’s an active environment.

Actively Engage

So my approach to teaching is that I want students to be actively engaged with the material throughout the lectures, all the tutorials, all the workshops or whatever, and so I’m not giving didactic lectures, I’m not using lots of PowerPoint slides.  I’m giving them information. I’m describing things to them, but then I give them lots of examples and lots of things to do, lots of activities to do. 

Story Telling

And it’s taken me a long time to discover what sort of teacher I actually am.... I had a colleague who said to me, ‘oh you’re a narrative teacher’.  I said, ‘I’m a what’? ..... I tell stories, essentially.  I tell stories.  I turn everything into a story in some way...

'Meet the Scientist' Breaks

So into the lectures I put kind of ad breaks, I suppose, short 'meet the scientist' breaks.  So we would have a photograph and fun facts about a scientist and various places we would have a stop, and I have told them that all of that information wasn't on the exam, so they knew that they could stop and just take a breather and then pick back up on the chemistry afterwards.  So that, I think helped, especially the ones that were just finding it all a bit kind of overwhelming. 

Holistic Approach

I think personally the quicker the students can see that holistic approach to chemistry the better... Because that’s when they start to realise how cool it is.

A New Language

Chemistry is a different language so I try to approach it that way by explaining the ideas behind symbols.

Be Available For Students

If a student comes to you with a fundamental misunderstanding, try to sit with them one-on-one if you can, and try to find out what their problem is and try to help them. Always try to be open, always try to be available. That’s very difficult in first year, due to the large number of students, but just try to help people. Be honest and open.

Weave in Examples

As usual, try to weave in some real-world examples.

Multiple Resources

If you look at the resources - students’ have textbooks, they have electronic media, they have Sapling. They can do the problems in their own time in a guided way with something like Sapling. All we as lecturers have to do is give them the framework to solve the problems.

Read the full quote here

Link to Sapling Learning


Put Material into Context

You can liken teaching chemistry to hacking your way through a forest. It’s a lot of detail, and you can’t expect students to do the hard work of fighting their way through the forest or the jungle, unless they have a global view of where they’re going. Keep going back to applications in the real world. How is it that geckos can crawl up a wall, and sit on the ceiling without falling off? How is it they’re able to stay there with gluey legs or something? How do they maximise the attractions between the molecules in their feet and the molecules in the ceiling?


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