Chemistry 101

Project Background

Chemistry 101- General Chemistry is a basic chemistry course for non-majors and focused on Nursing students who don’t require the higher degree of chemical and mathematics that other majors require. Nursing students face unique challenges and require the flexibility of online courses when available. Institutionally, we realized that students were taking required courses, like General Chemistry, online at other schools and transferring in credit. To keep the quality and consistency of our curriculum, as well as our students in our program, the decision was made to create CHE 101 in an online format.

The project was derived from two earlier successful projects moving Chemistry I and II online to accommodate the flexibility needs of students taking courses over the summer months. Students from previous online chemistry courses at the college showed improved test scores and reported that being able to review the video lectures while doing assignments were the primary reason for their success.

Course Features

This course feature several instructional features that benefit faculty comfort and student success with the modality.

  • We used targeted and selected reading from the text versus blanket reading assignments.
  • Students were given low-stakes reading assessments to ensure they were comprehending materials prior to the examinations.
  • Material was customized based on reading assessment results and supplemental materials added from open and/or public resources vetted by the faculty member.
  • Reading was supplemented with short (5 -10 minute) lecture videos covering critical and challenging topics or to ensure students understood the key points of the reading.
  • Videos were created using the Lightboard (see below) or selected from open and/or public videos vetted by the faculty member.
  • Students were given created interactions made using Articulate 360 or from an open educational resource that was included in the materials.
  • We relied on publisher content to assist in expanding test question pools to promote academic honesty and rigor.
  • Contemporary issues, topics, and quips were routinely added to the course to help these non-chemistry majors relate more readily to the content (e.g., Chemistry in the News).
  • Students engaged with each other using discussion question forums that relied on their knowledge of the reading, the lecture materials, and the math presented in the course.
  • The faculty member included an Ask the Professor discussion board forum to help alleviate the frequent and repeating question. This was proactively loaded with FAQs.
  • The course features 3 higher stakes examinations designed to meet disciplinary and departmental standards and offer a comparison in terms of student performance.

Instructional Samples

The media samples below were used with permission for this portfolio by the content owner. No unauthorized use or reproduction is permitted.

The General Chemistry course introduces students to a number of new topics and calculations. The need to demonstrate these visually is critical to the student learning. While the textbook and workbook contain a number of examples, students learn better when able to interact, even visually, with the information. After experimenting with screen-capturing mouse-driven calculations, rigged document camera recordings on paper, we settled on the use of Lightboard videos. These videos allowed us show calculations and diagrams while meeting research guidance on showing the instructor on the screen. It also uses common technique for faculty members by allow them to speak and write naturally at the same time.

The video below serves as an explanation of density and specific gravity. Rather than have a lengthy lecture as would be common in a face-to-face class, we elected to use targeted reading supported by the video below. In addition, students were given non-graded practice questions and received feedback on their work.

Throughout the course we identified topics that were common pitfalls for students. To assist students with better understanding topics, we combined video tutorials, supplemental videos (vetted but publicly available videos explaining the content in different ways, and Articulate interactions to allow the user to engage with the materials. Below is an example defining significant figures which was used in combination with course assignments and tests. The full interaction is linked here.

CHE 101 Sig Fig Interaction
Used with permission

My Role

Using a RACI model for instructional design projects, the roles of each stakeholder are clearly outlined in an initial meeting between the designer (me), the faculty member, and the department chair. In some cases when other staff members are used, they are included in the initial meetings. The RACI matrix below outlines the roles and responsibilities of this project.

This document was used with permission and names removed for web publication.

At a more granular level my role served a number of unique functions:

  • Instructional designer
    • Course alignment of objectives, materials, interactions, and assessments
    • Content development
    • Course branding and theming
  • Media production and post-production
    • Storyboarding and lecture design
    • Camera, lighting, and studio setup
    • Video editing
  • Instructional consultant
    • Redirections and redevelopment once course was deployed
  • Assessment support
    • Aiding the faculty member in understanding and incorporating feedback from students and peers.
  • Technical support
    • On-call support for faculty member
    • Designing in-course support for students
  • Faculty developer
    • Instructing on new technology, tools, and techniques.