November 2, 2018 Seminar: Undergraduates Teaching Chemistry via Outreach

November 2, 2018
Seminar: Undergraduates Teaching Chemistry via Outreach
Host: Dr. Solaire Finkenstaedt-Quinn

Professor Ellen Yezierski, a faculty member from Miami University of Ohio who specializes in chemistry education research, visited on November 2, 2018.

Professor Yezierski gave a seminar titled ‘Undergraduates Teaching Chemistry through Outreach: Starting a Journey from Goodwill to Research-based Practice’ which focused on research in her group that studies outreach activities run by undergraduates.

Her seminar covered three aspects of the project to date: (1) the development of a method to remotely interview undergraduates about their experiences, (2) the types of activities undergraduates choose to incorporate in outreach activities and why, and (3) how undergraduates evaluate chemistry content explanations used during outreach activities.

In addition to the seminar, Professor Yezierski met with students and faculty to discuss research and engagement efforts.

May 17, 2019 Discussion: Scientific Publishing from the Inside Out

May 17, 2019
Discussion: Scientific Publishing from the Inside Out
Hosts: Taylor Soucy & Dan Nasrallah

On Friday, May 17, 2019, Dr. Jake Yeston visited the University of Michigan to give a noon seminar to 130 Chemistry graduate students and faculty. His talk was entitled “Scientific Publishing from the Inside Out”.

He spoke about the history and future of publishing at Science Magazine and best practices for submitting or reviewing an article with the journal. He answered questions about his career path and ways to get involved in the publishing career space.

May 9, 2019 Discussion: Large Scale Oral Exams in Organic Chemistry

May 9, 2019
Discussion: Large Scale Oral Exams in Organic Chemistry
Host: Ellen Aguilera

Back to the Future: Exploring the Value of Oral Examinations in Organic Chemistry

 On Thursday, May 9, CSIE|UM held a round table style discussion with invited speaker Professor Mark Lautens from University of Toronto. The event was titled, Back to the Future: Exploring the Value of Oral Examinations in Organic Chemistry.”We had about 40 people register and attend the event. We allowed the audience to have breakfast catered by Panera for the first couple of minutes where they talked amongst themselves while some introduced themselves to Mark.

We started the event with welcoming Mark and gave him the floor to introduce us to his method of oral examinations for organic chemistry, such as why he began them and how he implements them. He stated that he began oral exams because after years of being in classes and teaching, he knew that everyone learns differently and therefore performs on tests, differently. For instance, some people do great on multiple choice questions while other flourish on short/long answers. Others struggle on written exams while others do well on oral exams. However, most colleges do written exams so we can rarely see those who do better on oral exams. In his organic chemistry classes, he gives both written and oral exams. The oral exams are given once a semester where they meet individually with Mark (sometimes another professor is in the room to avoid bias) and go through a 10-15 PowerPoint presentation of a synthesis or name reaction of their choice (approved by Mark). During this time, they go through the material and are interrupted with questions by Mark.

From there, the audience jumped in with questions/comments on his method, which opened the floor for discussion. This format allowed for the audience along with Mark to highlight the pros and cons of this method. The pros were that students get one-on-one interaction with the professor to create a relationship where undergraduate students aren’t intimated by their professor. In addition, it gives those students who struggle on written exams to do better and feel better about their grades. Furthermore, it allows students to practice talking chemistry and start to understand it rather than try to memorize answers.

The cons are some students are terrified of speaking in front of their professor and that might hold back their performance. Another con is that students must have access and knowledge of using chemistry searching tools (i.e. search papers online, sci-finder, ChemDraw) where at some institutions might not be possible or limited resources. In addition, this method is highly time consuming for the professor, so this is quite limited to class size and time spent with each student.  Mark was very open with answering and analyzing the pros and cons, and even took some feedback form the audience to improve his method. For instance, an audience member asked if he gave his students feedback from their oral exams, and he answered honestly that since it was already time consuming, he didn’t, but saw this would be beneficial for his students and discussed ways with the audience he could implement this.

Overall, this round table discussion was useful for those who want to go into teaching to determine whether or not they would like to do it. In summary, the pros really override the cons for oral examination so if someone has the ability to do it for a small class size that would be fantastic!

May 3, 2019 Classical Conversations: A High School Outreach

May 3, 2019
Classical Conversations: A High School Outreach
Host: Dean Martin (Fisk U)

On Friday, May 3rd, 2019, 11 prospective U-M students from the Classical Conversations high school group in Brighton, MI spent the day on the U-M central campus. Frances Acevedo-Mariani (LSA Recruiting and Outreach Coordinator) spoke with them about the opportunities and resources available at U-M while Chemistry’s undergrad Oscar Mota, graduate student Emily Mueller, and postdoc Danielle Fagnani all shared about their undergraduate experience, research and career paths. The students were treated to a tour of the Chemistry building by Professor Anne McNiel, and then a tour of the Life Science Institute (LSI) building by postdoc Jennifer Schmidt. They completed the day by exploring the attractions of the Museum of Natural History located in the Biological Sciences Building (BSB).

April 12, 2019 Panel: FFGSI Updates and Reports

April 12, 2019
Panel: FFGSI Updates and Reports
Host: Janelle Kirsch

On April 12, 2019, the 2018-2019 FFGSI Update event took place with 30 graduate students in attendance.

Kristina Lenn gave an update about Compute-to-Learn, an honors studio class for Chem 230 & 260. Beginning in 2008, the course has been running continuously since then and since the Fall 2015, there have been 86 students enrolled and 26 published demos as a result of the students’ projects. Voluntary interviews after the completion of the course suggest that the themes of programming, peer-review, and independent learning from the course were motivational and/or beneficial for the students.

Jeff Spencer gave a presentation about Chem 125-500, Arctic Snow Research in the General Chemistry Laboratory. During the third iteration of the course, the facilitators worked on streamlining some of the struggles reported in previous iterations, including grading, supporting the development of a research question, and smoothing out labs that were difficult to implement.  With this iteration, they noticed that students had trouble contextualizing the data from Northern Alaska and sifting through large quantities of data from the previous years’ cohorts.

Daniel Steyer’s FFGSI project studied 1H NMR in Chem 216 labs. During this project, new leads into the approaches and fundamental perception of 1H-NMR instruction held by graduate student instructors and novice professional instructors were explored. Preliminarily, they have seen that the professional instructors break spectral analysis down further and implement more advanced approaches for assessing student growth. Further studies will help deepen the understanding of fundamental 1H-NMR education and allow for the creation of better approaches for training new instructors.

March 22, 2019 Discussion: Writing Exam Questions

March 22, 2019
Discussion: Writing Exam Questions
Host: Blair Winograd

On March 22, CSIE|UM invited two faculty members from the Chemistry department to lead a Q&A on the process of writing exams. Professor John Wolfe and Dr. Amy Gottfried each discussed their process for developing and writing exams in organic chemistry and physical chemistry, respectively.

About 40 graduate students and post-doctoral associates attended the discussion. Afterwards, many students reported on their improved sense of confidence in being able to formulate and write exams.

March 8, 2019 Panel: Applying for Jobs in Academia

March 8, 2019
Panel: Applying for Jobs in Academia
Host: Dan Nasrallah

On Friday, March 8th, CSIE|UM hosted a panel discussion on the process of applying to academic positions at institutions from PUIs to R1s.  The panel consisted of 4 post-docs who have recently completed the process of applying to faculty positions: Courtney Roberts (Sanford Lab), Patrick Melvin (Sanford Lab), Meagan Hinze (Narayan Lab), and Nicholas Borotto (Hakansson Lab).

The session began by having the panelists introduce themselves and detailing how many, the location of, and what types of universities they applied to.

The discussion included helpful resources to use when applying from job posting boards to application review workshops.  The panelists also discussed a timeline for the application process, and general tips for how and when to apply.

The audience which consisted of over 60 graduate students and post docs then got to ask questions of the panelists about the process.

February 8, 2019 Seminar: What Makes a C Student a C Student?

February 8, 2019
Seminar: What Makes a C Student a C Student?
Host: Megan Conner

CSIE|UM hosted a research seminar by Professor Diane Bunce on February 8th, 2019. Professor Bunce is the 2019 recipient of the ACS Award for Achievement in Research for the Teaching & Learning of Chemistry and a Professor Emerita from The Catholic University of America.

Her research seminar, entitled “What makes a C student, a C student?”, detailed her group’s work to identify differential study approaches used by students of different achievement levels in general chemistry.

Her findings suggest that students receiving A/B course grades adopt a deep study approach, whereas students receive C course grades adopt a mix of deep and surface study approaches.

January 18, 2019 Seminar: Developing Instructional Coaching Skills

January 18, 2019
Seminar: Developing Instructional Coaching Skills
Host: Eleni Zotos

On January 18th, Scott Murphy from the Knowles Teacher Initiative spoke about instructional coaching. Scott described instructional coaching as a method of professional development that involves collaboration among colleagues to aid in improving pedagogical related issues in classroom settings. Instructional coaching is widely used in primary and secondary schools, but less so in tertiary institutions.

Following Scott’s introduction to coaching, the group engaged in a conversation about how instructional coaching might be used in a university setting. The conversation included anticipated challenges, methods to overcome challenges, and personal successes with coaching.