Mike Brook - Chemistry - Good News Stories in Online Teaching in the Faculty of Science


CHEM 2SC3 | Chemistry and Chemical Biology | 18 students

Their story

Students know best. Half of CHEM 2SC3 (Sustainable Chemistry) were scientists who were not interested in pursuing a career in chemistry. The other half the class were chemists, including 5 students who had opted for a program that, at the time, was only on the planning board – Sustainable Chemistry.

Maintaining interest and adjusting the chemical rigor for those two cohorts was challenging per se and exacerbated by an online only teaching model, as we all have discovered. Those 5 students willingly participated in a SusChem Team to advise us about learning strategies that would be engaging and encourage further development of chemical expertise.

Their proposals led to a much more engaged class, as evidenced by the number of cameras that went on and stayed on: more peer to peer marking; more group work, including debates “What’s better: paper or plastic bags?”, group responsibility to ask questions of guest speakers, capstone projects that involved designing a more sustainable undergraduate laboratory, or designing a more sustainable product based on sustainable metrics.

Higher student engagement led to more good news. This course is now the first of 3 that have been formally approved for a program in Sustainable Chemistry.

Helpful support: Amazing technical support from Christa Morrison for helping me implement the course on the technical side, to overcome all the frustrating little problems that arose as Teams changed over and over, and for providing ideas on how to engage students.

Photo of Mike Brook

Please direct any inquiries to: mabrook@mcmaster.ca

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Chemistry & Chemical Biology