Global / Diversity Learning in Chemistry: A Scaffolded Research Paper
Students write a research paper (750--1000 words) on a topic of global importance in chemistry, technology, health, environmental sustainability, or another related field. The paper explores the issue by identifying several communities affected by the issue in different ways. At the culmination of the project, students draw on a variety of media resources to describe the several perspectives, and conclude by advocating one approach to addressing the issue. Students assemble their own resources through library research, and are free to model their work on examples provided on the course Blackboard website.
CH-128-GDL: Introductory Organic Chemistry surveys the standard topics in organic and biochemistry, typically for undergraduates who plan to enter Nursing, Nutrition, or another health-related field. Topics covered include major functional groups and their derivatives; standard chemical nomenclature; common reactions; important classes of biological compounds; and three-dimensional stereochemistry. In laboratory, students practice various methods of basic organic synthesis, purification, and characterization.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Chemical nomenclature, library/web research, proper citation of sources, drafting and critical revision of written work.
How the activity is situated in the course
Students work on the GDL paper in gradual steps over the semester, with ample time for feedback between activities.
1 Students hear and discuss a brief presentation on the goals and avenues of GDL
3 Students begin research by choosing an article from a list of suggested publications.
4 Article and topic due.
5 Students receive feedback or further suggestions and complete a pre-reflection.
6 Students begin to broaden their bibliography from a range of resources. For extra
credit, students may include additional references from a list of non-traditional re-
7 Bibliography due.
8 Students begin to outline their rough draft by following a provided template. The
outline briefly discusses the chemistry of the topic at hand, but emphasizes the view-
points of affected communities as reported in their sources.
9 Outline due.
10 Students receive feedback on their outline and begin a rough draft.
12 Rough draft due. After a discussion of some submitted topics and examples of prob-
lematic writing, students complete a concurrent reflection and a short workshop on
proofreading and revision.
13 Students receive feedback on their rough draft and begin a revision.
14 Final draft due. Students complete a post-reflection.
15 Students complete a modified version of the TEAGLE survey and have the option of
posting their final drafts to Blackboard and commenting on those of others, all for
Content/concepts goals for this activity
· To understand the nomenclature, structures and reactions of simple organic compounds: alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, alcohols, amines, aldehydes, ketones, amides, esters, carboxylic acids and their derivatives.
· To practice and expect unbiased collection and presentation of facts from diverse sources in reports and papers.· To demonstrate an understanding of global interdependence of communities in the context of a chemical problem
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
· Evaluation of proposed solutions
Other skills goals for this activity
· Cogent and persuasive writing to advocate a solution to a global problem
Description and Teaching Materials
Each student chooses a global topic. Suggestions include the following.
· Climate change
· Organic or alternative farming
· Diagnostic devices
· Development of pharmaceuticals
· Disposal of chemical weapons
· Petroleum industry
· Disposal of plastics
· Pollution of a certain type
· Food preservation
· Pollution at a certain area
· Green revolution
· Preservation of cultural heritage or artifacts
Handouts for GDL Research Paper (Acrobat (PDF) 196kB Mar4 15)
Example GDL Outline (Acrobat (PDF) 251kB Mar4 15)
GDL Reflective Assignments (Acrobat (PDF) 40kB Mar4 15)
Rubrics for GDL Reflections (Acrobat (PDF) 61kB Mar4 15)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Both the reflective writing and scaffolds showed that gathering appropriate sources is less a challenge than using them correctly. As I designed this project, I expected that few students would be familiar with many of the publications, websites, and other resources suggested, so I was pleased that some reported that their strategy for research had changed. Although some students did need additional rounds of feedback to find--as required by the project--sufficiently diverse sources, many were quick to use academic databases or approach librarians.I was discouraged that some students who submitted correct MLA citations early in the project did not include a bibliography in one or more of their drafts. Nearly every paper lacked at least some necessary in-text citations, even when my comments on the rough draft explicitly requested one. Too many students plagiarized either from ignorance or from the assumption that they would not be penalized. Laboratory reports also suffer from plagiarism. Apparently students more fear seeming awkward than dishonest.
· Assessment of reflective writing (see timeline, above) provides qualitative and quantitative evidence to track changes in students' Awareness and Engagement with global issues from multiple perspectives. These rubrics seek to assess Transformation in students' metacognition--in particular, their approach to research and writing. See attachments for the pre-reflection, concurrent reflection, and post-reflection assignments and rubrics.
· Students complete a modified version of the TEAGLE survey at the end of the semester to further assess the components of GDL pedagogy (see timeline, above).
· At the end of the semester, students in CH-128-GDL also take the same assessment quiz and standardized American Chemical Society exam as students in the non-GDL sections of CH-128.
References and Resources