Chemistry Blended Learning Initiative

Custom eLearning Resources for Chemistry

History of Project

Beginning in the summer of 2005 and spanning until early 2007, the Center for Learning & Teaching at Penn State Berks partnered with chemistry professors Dr. Ike Shibley and and Dr. Kate Amaral to redesign our Chemistry 110 course in a blended format. The Chem 110 course was selected for this project because it was a large introductory course that had both a high failure rate and low student retention rates.

The newly designed course utilizes a blended, or hybrid format, in which traditional lectures were replaced by collaborative group work and the use of student response systems. An element of online participation outside of class was added in the form of online class guides, podcasts, web-based resources, and locally produced interactive multimedia practice exercises (learning modules). The online tutorials and interactive practice exercises target particular chemical concepts that students typically struggle with.

The staff of the Center for Learning & Teaching met with Shibley and Amaral to analyze the current course format, design an appropriate blended format, develop online course content, and implement the blended format. With data from our Office of Planning Research & Assessment, the blended course design was evaluated and found to have increased the average GPA for students in the course, and increased the ratio of students who received a passing grade, compared with students from semesters prior to the implementation of the blended format.

The project was managed under the direction of John Shank, former director of the Center for Learning & Teaching. The design team included  Mary Ann Mengel, instructional multimedia designer, along with subject matter experts Dr. Ike Shibley and Dr. Kate Amaral.

Building on the success of the Chem 110 blended learning initiative, Chem 112 was revised to a blended format during 2008-2009 to provide a consistent chemistry learning experience to students. Dr. Lorena Tribe partnered with the Center for Learning & Teaching through their Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant process.