Orchestrating learning and teaching in interdisciplinary chemistry

  • Pedrosa de Jesus M
  • Almeida P
  • Watts M
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Abstract

The work reported here focuses upon the progress of a university department as it attempts to orchestrate the interplay between the demands of undergraduate chemistry and the particular learning characteristics of students, and the approaches to teaching and learning favoured by staff. The discipline of chemistry is depicted as a practical scientific discipline that is continuously undergoing change and advancement and not as a static, abstract body of transmitted knowledge. The learners in the course come from a range of backgrounds, and have been surveyed for their learning preferences using Kolb's (1999) Learning Styles Inventory. This has allowed the department to 'tune' or tailor some of its course provision towards these characteristics. These developments include 'enhancement' lectures to broaden the appeal of chemistry, moves to enact a greater devolution of learning to the learners, and the re-configuring of traditional laboratory exercises and project work to increase learner autonomy. The orchestration of learning in this way does not come without some instances of resistance to change but, in the main, as evidenced in some of the feedback from students, is an important move in the professional re-shaping of university provision of the science.

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