Please click on a link below to view the chemistry undergraduate students’ research presentations
Each semester, more and more students are participating in lab courses that go by the name Research Experiences to Enhance Learning (REEL) General Chemistry lab and REEL Organic Chemistry lab. In contrast to traditional chemistry lab courses where students perform lab exercises and submit lab reports with a known outcome, the approach of the REEL method of lab teaching is to have students, work independently and collaboratively, develop, pursue and implement their own research projects. Since most of these students lack any sort of research background, guidance and instruction that include literature searches, instrument instruction, data acquisition, data analysis, and presentation of research results are provided for each of the projects. By the end of the semester, each group of students present a poster of their research at a REEL Chemistry Conference sponsored by one of the participating universities or at a regional American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting. The result of such engagement is readily apparent in the students’ enthusiasm, pride, and commitment in their projects.
REEL Chemistry first arrived at CSU nine years ago through the support of a National Science Foundation grant, co-written by Dr. Robert Wei of the Chemistry Department. Over that time, fifteen other Ohio Universities have also participated in this new and effective approach to teaching which is redefining the lab experiences at our institution. To date only 2 univerisities participate in REEL.
Since Dr. O’Connor started directing the students in the REEL courses eight years ago, she has guided and overseen the original research of students regarding such topics as arsenic and chromium content in wooden playground structures, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) toxicity, bioremediation of PCBs by oyster mushrooms, heavy metal concentrations in community gardens and brown field sites around the Cleveland area, lead concentrations in the vicinity of gun ranges and roadways, and the occurrence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in cooked foods, sealed coated parking lots, and motor oils as well as the toxicity of PAHs and heavy metals on vibrio fischeri.
Instructing a REEL lab takes full commitment. Instead of a single traditional lab exercise each week, the activities of the REEL labs keep Dr. O’Connor and two teaching assistants very busy. Outside of lab, they frequently meet with students to give them guidance and instruction on their projects.
In the REEL labs, students quickly learn the importance of teamwork and collaboration. They develop critical and creative thinking that builds confidence as well as knowledge–all valuable skills in today’s areas of research. Since these are original research ideas the students take ownership of their projects. In a traditional lab course the “experiments” are exercises with known outcomes. In REEL lab, the students are working on actual research projects, the outcomes are unknown. This provides the students with a sense of discovery and knowledge which is an essential part of the learning process.
Please click on a link below to view the student research presentations
Student REEL Presentations Spring 2015
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