© 1999,2000 Rainer Glaser.
The University of Missouri at Columbia, Chemistry 210, Organic Chemistry I, FS00

Collaborative Learning
and Peer Review
in Chemical Learning Communities


The Utopian Goal: Teaching to Enable Autodidactic Behavior

About Learning in Customary Educational Settings: Not only do individuals learn at vastly different speeds and in different ways, but man seems capable of astonishing feats of rapid learning when the attendant circumstances are favourable. It seems that, in customary educational settings, one habitually uses only a tiny fraction of one's learning capacities.

Complexities of Human Learning: Educators are therefore becoming increasingly concerned with these concomitant learnings. They are aware that the long-term significance of the arithmetical skill that the student consciously learns may be nugatory compared with the importance of what he learns about himself as a learner, about his capacities and limits, about his relationship with his teacher, about power and authority, about his relationships with his fellow students, about equality, collaboration, competition, and friendship.


Scope of the Collaborative Projects

Having recognized the complexities of learning, it is the purpose of the Chemistry 210 Collaborative Groups to engage the students in collaborative learning and to train and develop their ability to work with peers and their peer review skills. Groups will consist of 4-6 students and the groups are self-selected.

Talking chemistry with your peers, working together on assignments, the oral interaction with your peers and the feedback obtained from your peers, all of these mechanisms will provide you with opportunities for more active learning, will provide the framework for support and constructive criticism, and will teach you valuable lessons on group dynamics. You will have to think about the peer group rather than focusing on your internal standards alone.



Organizing Your Group

There are some obvious ways to form groups. Some of you might know each other from courses previously taken together, from living in the same dorm, engaging in the same sports, you might know each other from Greek Life, and so forth. Others might be new to Columbia and MU and might not know anybody in this course as yet. In either case, to find other students to create your groups just approach other students and ask whether they might be interested in joining you.

A list with the names of the students in Chemistry 210 will be posted on the Chemistry 210 Course Page. This list will contain the electronic mail addresses of the students. It is planned to link student portraits to this list as well. Students with their own home pages are encouraged to submit the URLs of their home pages to the instructor. Links will be established between the posted class list and the individual home pages. You can use this list to see whether you might find students with common interests to join your group.

Practical aspects (where does (s)he live, what times is (s)he available, ...) are as important as personal matters (do you think you can get along with this student ...) and your estimate of his/her ability and motivation (is this student likely to contribute to the group ...).



Relevant Dates and Deadlines

Formation of Groups. Friday, September 1, 2000. This is the Friday at the end of the second week of the semester. Send an email note to the instructor that contains the name of the group (be creative, come up with some interesting group names) and lists all of the group's members and their email addresses. This deadline is several weeks prior to the first test. It is hoped that you will make use of the groups in your preparation for the tests!


Further Information

Collaborative Group Activities are relatively new to Chemistry 210. Your input is crucial to us. Please, be as open and frank as possible when commenting on any aspect of the design, planning, and execution of the Collaborative Group activities. Let us know what works and what does not work. The Chemistry 210 Collaborative Group activities will be monitored by professional educators and your comments on any aspects of "Collaborative Learning and Peer Review in Chemical Learning Communities" will be valuable. All materials associated with this project will be used in forthcoming lectures and publications by the instructional team. Thank you for you cooperation.




Absolument mon ami, l'excellence est une habitude.