University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Wissinger leads week-long workshop on guided-inquiry labs

Professor Jane Wissinger from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota and Tammy Davidson, Ph.D., from the University of Florida hosted 20 chemistry instructors for a workshop titled, Teaching Guided-Inquiry Organic Chemistry Laboratories. This National Science Foundation-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops & Community of Scholars (cCWCS) event included 2.5 days of laboratory work and 2 days of classroom activities that illustrated strategies for modifying laboratory curriculum to incorporate inquiry-based experiments and teaching methodologies.

Carleton CollegeProfessor Emeritus Jerry Mohrig kicked off the week-long workshop with a seminar on teaching inquiry-driven organic chemistry labs. Assumption College Associate Professor Betsy Dolby Davie gave the keynote success story presentation, “Beyond Survival Mode: Fostering Scientific Thinking in the Organic Lab.” 

University of Minnesota teaching assistants Sarah Wegwerth and Curtis Payne, along with former undergraduate and now University of Florida graduate student Tomohiro Kubo, modeled pre- and post-laboratory student-led discussions. They also coached the instructors on two guided-inquiry experiments, including a sustainable polymer experiment originating from Wissinger’s Center for Sustainable Polymer’s-funded research. Support was provided by Laboratory Services Coordinator Patrick Schildt and Laboratory Technicians Christina Youngren and Jessica Jannusch.  

A panel comprised of professors Michelle Driessen from the University of Minnesota, Michael Wentzel from Augsburg College, and David Blackburn from Century College shared their successes in discovery-based instruction.

The participants finished the week by recasting verification experiments and developing a personal action plan for modifying their laboratory courses upon returning to their home institutions.