Marc Loudon summarized his impressions of the panel’s discussions. Real-world examples are necessary for chemistry courses (like Jerry Mohrig’s flu stories), analytical tools are crucial, and teaching methods must excite the students (like HMC’s ID Lab and Art Ellis’ materials). How to transfer some of the techniques to large schools is a real issue.
In order to successfully implement change, crucial skills and themes must be identified so that tests measure learning of important material. Other obstacles will also be encountered. Many schools find it hard to optimally allocate resources, and there are big drawbacks to basing money on the number of student hours. In addition, the assigning of TAs is important. Do biology or chemistry graduate students act as TAs in biochemistry courses? The choice dramatically affects how the students see the material. A workshop could be organized to bring together faculty and administrators to discuss the importance of these structural issues. Project Kaleidoscope is one venue that attempts to address such problems. It operates by looking for “what works” and encouraging others to apply those approaches in their own institutions, departments, and courses. It has recently focused on two main issues in educational reform: the importance of institutional change and the architectural design of laboratories and classrooms. In addition, its network of Faculty for the 21st Century provides support for young professors who care about education by linking them with similar faculty at other institutions.
The American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Professional Training (CPT) oversees undergraduate accreditation in chemistry at over 600 schools. Their 40-page guidelines are available at the CPT Web site (http://www.acs.org/education/cpt/guidelines.html). The guidelines describe a chemistry curriculum at the core level and provide topical supplements in areas such as biochemistry. Biochemistry was recently added as a requirement for all chemistry majors. There are three ways a school can satisfy that requirement for accreditation: a core required course, an upper-level course, or distribution of biochemical content throughout the core curriculum. The third option would go a long way toward helping to address the perceived irrelevance of chemistry to biologists. However, most schools will stick with a separate biochemistry course. One reason for this concern is the fear of classically trained chemistry faculty who themselves lack biological training and do not have easy access to good textbooks with integrated biological examples.
The trend of the ACS’s CPT is to allow for increased flexibility in how