Affective Impacts of a Context-Embedded First-Year Chemistry Curriculum
First-year chemistry at UBC’s Okanagan campus serves as a prerequisite to later courses required of Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology majors, but is also a requirement for BSc students who do not proceed further in the chemical sciences, making it the terminal chemistry course for many students.
We are undertaking a multi-year strategic redesign, revision, and assessment of our first-year course sequence, with the overarching goal of identifying and pursuing learning outcomes relevant for all of our students, regardless of their academic and career paths. These outcomes include lasting impacts on learner attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors regarding the role the chemical sciences play in our collective society and individual lives. The support of such affective learning has demanded the creation and use of new context-embedded learning activities, including an activity describing and applying first-year chemistry principles to a traditional pit-cooking practice of regional Interior Salish peoples.
This presentation will present the pedagogical basis for our redesign project, the nature of the various active learning resources used to deliver the new curriculum, and findings of an ongoing multi-faceted research study to assess the impacts of our redesign process, including both a dramatic increase in student success rates and positive shifts in student attitudes regarding their relationship with chemistry.
W. Stephen McNeil is an Associate Professor at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia, in Kelowna BC. He received his BSc and PhD from the University of British Columbia, then taught at the University of Washington, Douglas College, and Okanagan University College before joining UBC Okanagan in 2005. He has won the UBC Okanagan Award for Teaching Excellence and Innovation in 2009, the UBC Okanagan Killam Teaching Prize in 2018, the Chemical Institute of Canada Chemistry Education Award in 2019, and the BC Teaching and Learning Council West Coast Teaching Excellence Award in 2023. He is leading a reform of the curriculum, content, and delivery of introductory chemistry courses by developing, implementing, and assessing flipped delivery activities, active and guided-inquiry learning, and a context-embedded curriculum. His research interests include the development and assessment of active- and collaborative-learning methods and innovative student-engagement strategies, and the impacts of a context-embedded science curriculum on affective learning.