Evaluating Learning

Final Group Presentations


In this course, you have a final presentation instead of a final exam. The oral presentation is approximately 15% of your final grade, and MUST be part of a group presentation. Each group will consist of 3-4 people (absolutely no less than 3 and there should be no more than two groups of four). Your group may select any topic related to chemistry and its applications to society that draws on concepts covered in this course. Each person in your group will have 5 minutes to present their portion of the group presentation. You will be graded on your portion of the group presentation using the criteria listed on a separate evaluation sheet that I will distribute to you later. In addition, you should keep in mind the comments below on Presentation, Audience, Content, Timing, and Attendance. You must indicate the title of your group presentation and a list of the people in your group by Friday, April 15. This can be done either by a signup sheet posted on my office door or by email.

Presentation: Don't be afraid to be original and creative. Your main goal is to share information with the other students in class in a clear and interesting manner. You are free to use whatever presentation medium you want; you are not required to use PowerPoint although that certainly is one possibility. If you stand in front of the class and read a prepared statement, you are doing the minimum required work and will receive a C. If your group decides to videotape the presentation and you simply stand/sit in front of the camera and read a prepared statement, you are still doing just the minimum required work.

Audience: Your audience is the rest of the class.

Content: The content of your presentation should be geared to the audience, be factual, and should blend and be part of a larger group presentation. Remember that the overall group presentation must contain a reasonable amount of chemistry as it relates to your chosen topic.

Timing: You have 5 minutes for your portion of the presentation. I will stop you if you run over.

Attendance: It is important that everyone has an audience to present their work to. You are expected to attend when other groups are presenting.

By Wednesday of the last week of class (April 27), each person needs to come to class with a bibliography and copies of at least 4 sources (maximum of two sources from the Internet) which are related to your group topic. The bibliographies will be turned into me; failure to turn in a bibliography will result in a 20% penalty on your final presentation grade. I will find exactly identical bibliographies highly suspect; although some overlap between bibliographies of people working in the same group is normal.

Chemistry of Daily Life Lab


Welcome to Chemistry of Daily Life Laboratory! The goal of this course is to help you learn about the process by which chemists think about chemical processes in the world around them. Many science courses have traditionally presented "science" as a series of facts to be memorized. The accomplished chemistry student was considered to be the person who could memorize a lot of chemistry "facts." In this course, as in the classroom, I intend to give you the opportunity to experience the process of discovery that is at the heart of chemistry. Chemistry is a search to better understand how substances behave, the types of transformations that they can undergo; chemistry is NOT simply an accumulation of a bunch of facts regarding chemicals.

Many of the experiments that we will do are not simply demonstrations to convince you that what we discuss in class is true. Some of these experiments have been selected to give you a sense of some techniques used by chemists; others have been selected to expose you to some aspects of chemistry that are better dealt with in lab than in lecture.

Classes/Readings/"Just-in-Time" Questions/Attendance and Class Participation


As part of your work for this class, you will be asked to read approximately 10-15 pages of material in the textbook for each class period. Your reading should focus on identifying new terms/definitions and developing a basic understanding of what they mean. The time we spend together in class will be focused on working with concepts, relationships between concepts, and the relationship between concepts and informed decision making. By coming into class already familiar to some extent with what new words you will hear, you free up more class time for us to work on new concepts and their relationship to both previous material and the decision making process.

To help give me a better understanding of which concepts students understand and which concepts are giving all of you difficulty, I will regularly ask you to complete what are best described as "Just-in-Time" assignments. These assignments, each involving a few questions, will be completed by you individually and submitted to me through the course Blackboard site by midnight the night before the next time the class will meet. I will look over these assignments and use the information I gain from this to fine-tune what we will do in class that period. In order for this feedback loop between out-of-class assignment and what we do during class to be effective, I can't accept late assignments of this type....period. No excuses, no explanations. I will do my best to design these assignments so that they less than 30 minutes (ideally around 20 minutes) for you to do. Assignments will sometimes be graded on effort alone, sometimes on the quality of the answer. There will be roughly 25 assignments of this type contributing to the total number of points allotted to this category. If a legitimate reason interferes with your ability to turn in a single assignment, it will have very little impact on your grade. Conversely, failure to turn in all the assignments will lower your overall course grade
about half a letter grade.

You should plan on spending about 4-6 hours a week working on chemistry. It is to your advantage to spread this time out evenly over all the days in a week, rather than trying to spend 4-5 hours in a single day once a week.

I expect students to attend class regularly and to be on time. This is particularly important in this course, given its nature. I trust that students who miss class or are late will find out (from other students) or me what happened in class. Attendance can be a factor in your final grade. Excused absences (medical, family emergency) will not be penalized explicitly, although numerous excused absences will affect your performance on exams and homework projects. Absences when an exam is scheduled will require documentation (note from doctor, health center, or appropriate College administrator); exams must be made up within 72 hours. An exam missed because of an unexcused absence cannot be made up.

While class participation is not an explicit component of your grade in this course, student who are active involved on a regular basis in class and are on the border between two grades will receive the higher of the two possible grades.

Notebooks


Keeping a detailed and thorough notebook is essential for understanding the process of doing chemistry. This is why each student is required to keep a permanent bound notebook that can be used to record experimental data. Composition books work particularly well for this purpose. Use the notebook as a note pad and a record book for all of your observations taken during the experiment.

After completing the experiment, each student will show me his or her notebook. I will be looking to see that the notebook gives a detailed explanation of the experimental procedure and all observations made, as well as the results generated during the experiment.

Exams/Final Group Project/Other Graded Work


There will be four in-class exams during the semester, each worth 100 points each. Tentative dates for the exams are given at the end of this syllabus; each exam will cover three or four chapters.

Instead of a final exam at the end of the semester, you will be required to make a 20 to 25 minute group presentation on a topic related to chemistry. You will be provided with a list of possible topics; the deadline for when to submit your group's choice of topic will be decided by the class. Groups are free to choose topics that don't appear on the list. You will be required to find current articles (print and Internet) for use as reference material for this presentation. A week before the presentation each group will be required to hand in a bibliography of sources found to date, and an outline will be handed in at the time of the presentation.

Throughout the semester there will be short announced quizzes at the end of many of the chapters. Each quiz will be worth 20 points; the five highest quizzes will count towards your final grade. Quizzes will be based in part on questions at the end of each chapter that I will recommend you answer.

There will be several small projects that students will complete during the semester. More information about each project will be given out in class. These small projects, along with the "Just-in-Time" questions, will be worth a total of 100 points towards your final grade.

SENCER and the Personal Project


This course is part of Saint Vincent College's involvement in a larger science education reform project, Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER for short), that has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

SENCER seeks to:

- connect science and civic engagement by teaching "to" basic science "through" complex current and unsolved public issues
- show the power of science by identifying the dimensions of a public issue that can be better understood with certain mathematical and scientific ways of knowing
- invite students to put scientific knowledge and scientific method to immediate use on matters of importance
- extract from immediate issues, the larger, common lessons about scientific processes and methods
- encourage student engagement with civic questions that require attention now, and helps students understand the interdisciplinary nature of these questions

To help you make connections between the scientific concepts we examine in class and the broader civic questions they relate to, each of you will be asked to complete a personal project. That project can be one of several different things - helping Campus Ministry with their organization of the Oxfam Fast for a World Harvest, helping Campus Ministry with their "Nights on the Boulevard" feeding ministry to homeless individuals in Pittsburgh, working with the Wellness Center to create/promote a diabetes or overweight/obesity education event, etc. Student ideas for personal projects are
welcome. As part of this project, you will be asked to keep a log of the time you spend working on it, and at the project's end you will write a short reflection paper that will focus on what you learned from the experience and what connections you see between your project and topics we've covered in the course. More information on the personal project will be given out later in the semester.

Grade Summary

4 in-class exams (100 points @) 400 points
group presentation 100 points
quizzes (20 points @, five best scores) 100 points
personal project 50 points
JiTT, small projects 100 points

Total 750 points
Final grades will be determined from the grading scale found in the College Bulletin.

Chemistry of Daily Life Nutrition Small Project


One of the ways that you can better educate yourself about hunger and nutrition issues is to become more comfortable applying some of the concepts we've covered in class. To help you in developing this skill, your assignment is to make a detailed record of one week's intake of food, vitamins, and other supplements. Consult nutrition charts and determine the percentage by weight of protein, carbohydrate, fats and other substances that you consumed. What percentage of the fat that you consumed was saturated? How much food (in terms of calories) would you estimated was "wasted" (e.g. not eaten)? Are there any changes to your diet that, based on concepts from this class, you think would be good to make? You should summarize your results in a 2-3 page memo. Your paper should demonstrate your basic understanding of selected ideas we've covered in class without going into extreme depth....if you understand an idea well, you should be able to present that understanding in a concise manner. Feel free to consult with me about any part of this assignment. A web site that you may find particularly helpful is the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory:

Nutrient Data Library

where you can find nutrient information for 1000's of different foods. (Note - I've put up a link to this web site on Blackboard in the External Links section.) I will evaluate your work from the perspective of the Six Principles of Good Writing and how well you understand particular ideas.

Additional information on Possible Personal Projects from the course syllabus:

To help you make connections between the scientific concepts we examine in class and the broader civic questions they relate to, each of you will be asked to complete a personal project. That project can be one of several different things - helping Campus Ministry with their organization of the Oxfam Fast for a World Harvest, helping Campus Ministry with their "Nights on the Boulevard" feeding ministry to homeless individuals in Pittsburgh, working with the Wellness Center to create/promote a diabetes or overweight/obesity education event, etc. Student ideas for personal projects are
welcome. As part of this project, you will be asked to keep a log of the time you spend working on it, and at the project's end you will write a short reflection paper that will focus on what you learned from the experience and what connections you see between your project and topics we've covered in the course. More information on the personal project will be given out later in the semester.

The following information is from Katie Wojtunik, Assistant Campus Minister. Any student interested in participating in one or more of these activities should contact Katie for more information.

"The dates we plan on going to Meals on the Boulevard are:
March 18
April 8th
April 29th
On Feb 18th, as part of our Spring Break Service Trip, we will be going to Pittsburgh, but from there we will be going to Gilmary Retreat Center. If students wish to drive seperately, they are welcome to do so. Also, if people wish to join us on the Service trip, that would be wonderful (I will send you more information as it becomes available). Cotillion is scheduled for Saturday, March 19th. So the Oxfam Fast for a World Harvest will take place shortly before that in terms of organizing and collecting meal donations."

Additional information on Possible Personal Projects from the course syllabus:

To help you make connections between the scientific concepts we examine in class and the broader civic questions they relate to, each of you will be asked to complete a personal project. That project can be one of several different things - helping Campus Ministry with their organization of the Oxfam Fast for a World Harvest, helping Campus Ministry with their "Nights on the Boulevard" feeding ministry to homeless individuals in Pittsburgh, working with the Wellness Center to create/promote a diabetes or overweight/obesity education event, etc. Student ideas for personal projects are welcome. As part of this project, you will be asked to keep a log of the time you spend working on it, and at the project's end you will write a short reflection paper that will focus on what you learned from the experience and what connections you see between your project and topics we've covered in the course. More information on the personal project will be given out later in the semester."

The format of the paper should be a narrative essay that addresses the following (broad) questions:

- What was the activity you participated in? Please give enough description so that I have a clear picture in my mind of what the activity focused on and what specifically you did
- What did you learn from your experience? This question is focused more on what you learned from participating in the activity itself, not so much on the connections between your experience and class concepts
- How did participation in the activity affect your understanding of concepts we have looked at in this course? This question is primarily concerned with the connections between what you did as your activity and the concepts we've looked at over the semester. You may find that your understanding of course concepts has changed, that your sense of how important some concepts are has been reinforced, that some concepts we covered seemed to contradict what you learned from the experience, or that there were some concepts we didn't cover that we should have. This is not a question with a "right" or "wrong" answer; it is a question designed to get you to make connections between what you encountered in the classroom and what you encountered in your activity. At the end of your paper, please include a log of the time you spent working on the activity.

I expect that the narrative section of the paper will be around 3 pages in length. That will vary to some extent with things such as writing style, the nature of the activity, what things you choose to reflect on. The narrative itself should not be longer than 5 pages. Papers will be graded on the Six Principles of Writing and how you address the
questions above.