Writing to Learnmwrite_logo-web-color-nobackground

Zinsser called writing “thinking on paper” and an extensive body of research has shown that writing has the capacity to support deep conceptual learning across disciplines. However, writing is underused in college level classrooms – particularly at the introductory level.  As part of the MWrite project, our group is working with faculty across the UM campus to incorporate writing into their introductory courses. We are interested in understanding how writing contributes to learing in thse deiscplines and in usi
ng natural language processing techniques to help faculty to understand what students’ writing says about what they’ve learned.

Graduate Student Teaching

Graduate students play a major role in introductory chemistry courses at doctorate granting institutions and their instruction may have an outsized impact on student learning. Graduate teacher training is often brief, overgeneralized, and do not reflect what is known about teaching and learning. We are interested in understanding how graduate students develop teaching expertise in this context so that improved training methods can be developed.  Our group has investigated
how teaching expertise is developed over time, by measuring Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), which is a teacher specific type of understanding about how students learn content.  Using our measure we observed that PCK does developed over time, but it is still underdeveloped even after several terms of teaching.teachexperienceHale, L.V.A.; Shultz, G.V. The Development of a Tool for Measuring Graduate Students’ Topic Specific Pedagogical Content Knowledge of Thin Layer Chromatography. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 2016, Advance Article

Students as Creators of Knowledge

Curriculum models like inquiry learning, problem-based learning, or course-based undergraduate research engage students as active creators of knowledge. To engage authentically in the practice of chemistry students must be able to find and evaluate outside information in order to assess the current state of chemistry knowledge related to their experimental goals. Implementation of such curricula requires that skills, such as information literacy, be explicitly taught alongside scientific inquiry. In the Shultz group, we design and test instructional methods that develop students ability to find, evaluate, and use outside information to solve chemistry problems.


Shultz, G.V.*; Li, Y. Student Development of Information Literacy Skills During Problem-based Organic Chemistry Laboratory Experiments. J. Chem. Educ., 2015, Articles ASAP