CHED - 801

Variations on the Mazur Teaching Method in General Chemistry.

Judith Herzfeld, Dept. of Chemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254-9110.

Mazur's method for teaching large introductory physics classes provides active learning experiences, peer instruction opportunities, emphasis on concepts over computation, and frequent feedback to the students and instructor. In the fall of 1996, the method was adapted for general chemistry at Brandeis University. "ConcepTests" were used intensively, with lecturing only in the context of, or as lead-in to, specific questions. In an amphitheater without interactive computing capabilities, four-lettered and -colored signs were used, rather than a show of hands, to minimize self-consciousness and allow "voting" on up to four answers at once. Some students resented being made to work in class. But, after 13 "lectures", evaluation found many more in favor of the method than against it. The early feedback to students facilitated more timely decisions to seek help. Some flexibility was required in peer instruction. Because some students became frustrated with questions designed to elicit half wrong answers, students were sometimes allowed to confer on difficult questions before giving their first answers. In other cases, where right and wrong answers were spatially maldistributed for discussion, the instructor helped students revise their answers by providing further guidance in thinking about the problem.