Expert Insights

The influence has been to stand back and let the students do the learning, rather than for the teacher to be barnstorming them with teaching.

I use a lot of eye contact. The people in the back row are not anonymous, you know.  Make sure you’re talking to them and make sure that you see them.

The actual curly arrow mechanisms are in a way themselves cartoons, how they map to the reality in the way that a Micky Mouse might map to real life.

A lot of it is from colleagues.  Conferences are fantastic.  You know, your chemical education conferences.  I do go to a lot of those.

In the lab it comes out in a variety of ways.  It comes out most commonly when the student gets to actually start doing their calculations and you ask them to relate that back to what they’ve actually physically measured.  And when they start doing those sorts of things you realise there’s a bit of a misplaced idea here or a misconception that you can deal with there.

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.

I want them to get the big picture about what analytical chemistry is about in terms of solving an analytical chemistry problem.  They need to know the big picture rather than just focussing on the measurement step.

So, just to make them do some work, and made them think about the ideas themselves.  Talk amongst themselves about it.  I think that just too much of me in the lecture just washes over them after five to 10 minutes.  So they just need to have a break, think about the problem, do a couple of problems, talk amongst themselves... that seems to help, with both the variety of students in the class, but also just keeping them engaged.  Keeping their attention.

I like to approach chemistry as a different language, because it used symbols to convey ideas across, but they are not the reality.  When we draw a little stick structure, alcohol does not exist as I’ve just drawn it, it’s a representation.

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. 

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