is available from its committee chair, Ted Kuwana at the University of Kansas. (http://www.chem.ukans.edu/tkuwana/). The committee was formed in response to a perceived failure of the curriculum to meet the needs of scientists, especially industrial employers looking for employees with quantitative skills, trained in measurement science, and with more real-world, problem analysis skills. Three crucial areas that students lack are measurement, problem solving, and hands-on techniques. One way to improve these areas is to use context-based material and problem-based learning (PBL). Through PBL, students are taught to: (1) define a problem, (2) deal with sampling, (3) separate out interfering compounds, (4) measure, (5) collect data, and (6) analyze results. All science students need to know about analysis, instruments, and quantitative concepts. For example, biology students need to know which columns to choose for which experiments. Biologists also need to learn about spectroscopy, especially NMR and mass spectroscopy, but not necessarily infrared spectroscopy. They need to acquire analytical and problem-solving skills and have exposure to primary experimental data. In the context of chemistry, the best way to teach these topics is through an analytical course.
Panel member Art Ellis mentioned the book “Talking About Leaving.” Ellis has eliminated grading on the curve and, therefore, much of the competition in his introductory course. He uses exercises to make the students feel less isolated, including study groups and ConcepTests. In this approach, conceptual questions are posed in the lecture room along with a few possible answers. Students vote on the possible answers, try to persuade their neighbors in the lecture room that they are correct, and finally vote again. The goal is to get students to predict how things work; it requires inspiration, not more acid-base calculations. This form of peer instruction is often an effective pedagogical method, and it also provides the instructor with online feedback as to how well the class is following the lecture. It can also help to decrease differences between students of diverse backgrounds. Ellis recommends using good, pointed questions to focus the material. He focuses on having students spend time in discussion groups and he covers the key points in lecture, but requires them to read the textbook for the remainder of the content. He views this as empowering them to learn. Tracking at UW-Madison shows that enrollment for organic chemistry is almost as large as introductory chemistry; therefore attrition has declined with these new efforts in the first-year course.