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Chemistry | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Higher Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning | Science and Mathematics Education


Lisa Gentile


For students who are not chemistry majors, but who are on a career track requiring four chemistry courses, taking the final reactivity chemistry course (CHEM 251) for pre-health students can be daunting. For this reason, this research is focused on the CHEM 251 course at The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSBSJU) which is one of the four required chemistry courses for pre-medicine and some pre-physician assistant students, and all chemistry and biochemistry majors. Student perception of inclusion in the course increased through the implementation of group assignments including prompts for individual application of the material. The updated group homework model created room for students to research wider connections of chosen topics and write about their relevance to the world around them and their own personal lives. For example, within the organometallic catalysis unit, students explored the MCM-RHA catalyst and its applications to ceramic art, local indigenous groups, and use as a green catalyst. Having students work together fosters connections with peers and allows for more personal stake in the outcome of group work. A personal response section to the group homework assignments was added to encourage personal participation. Students in the Fall 2023 section of the course acted as a control and students in the Spring 2024 section of the course completed the updated assignments including the personal prompts. Student perceptions of inclusion were measured using a Likert scale survey taken week 11 of the semester. Students in the Spring section of the course had a more confident and increased level of perceived inclusion compared to students in the Fall section. The individual application prompts were shown to increase student perceptions of inclusion while also providing tangible evidence that students were engaging with the material at a more personal level than before.