Workshop approach in physical chemistry: A preliminary evaluation

CHED 392

Lucille B. Garmon, and Farooq A. Khan, Department of Chemistry, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118-6310
The University of West Georgia has used PLTL-model workshops in introductory chemistry since 1999. In 2007 the model was adapted for the thermodynamics portion of physical chemistry. One class meeting each week was a workshop session when students worked on problems that were challenging yet fairly simple to solve once a key concept or insight had been grasped. The problems were chosen to encourage development of a phenomenological approach rather than one of mathematical formalism. Both authors were present in the room, moving among the groups of five or six students each, asking the leading questions and providing the encouragement that would usually come from a peer leader. Students responded well and showed increased confidence in their problem-solving abilities. Scores on the standardized ACS exam in thermodynamics, to be given at the end of the semester, can be compared with previous years to determine substantive increase in mastery.