© 1999,2000,2001 Rainer Glaser.
The University of Missouri at Columbia, Chemistry 216, Honors Organic Chemistry I, FS01

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 216 Collaborative Groups to engage the students in collaborative learning and to train and develop their ability to work with their peers. Groups consist of 3-4 students and the groups are self-selected.

Talking chemistry with your peers, working together on assignments, obtaining feedback obtained from your peers, all of these mechanisms will provide opportunities for more active learning, will create 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.

The groups are required to meet once a week for one full hour. These meetings have to occur at a pre-determined time and at a pre-determined place. The recommended place to meet is the Chemistry Computer Room in 105 Schlundt Hall. This computer room is staffed Monday - Friday between 9am and 5pm. The recommended meeting times are Tuesday after the lecture, 10 - 11 am, and Thursday afternoon, 4 - 6 pm. Both computer labs are reserved for Chemistry 216 at those times. You are allowed to meet at a different location if you can justify that the meeting place you selected is of equal quality and offers the same level of hardware and software. Each group is free to select a meeting time. Once this meeting time has been determined, it is expected that you stick to it. Changes of group meeting times should only be made if there are very good reasons to change the meeting time and if every group member and the instructor agree.

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 discussion list will be created within the first week of the course. You can use this discussion list to announce any vacancies in your group or to inquire as to who might want you in their 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 ...).

Formation of Groups: Friday, August 31, 2001. This is the Friday at the end of the second week of the semester. Send an email note to the instructor that contains in this order:

(a) the name of the group (be creative, come up with some interesting group names!)
(b) the names and email addresses of the 3-4 group members.
(c) the meeting time and
(d) the meeting place.
If you select a meeting place other than 105 Schlundt Hall, then you need to justify that you have appropriate hardware and software at the alternative location that allows you to carry out all of the online work associated with this course.

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 have been introduced to Chemistry 210 in 1997 and the activities are updated and refined. 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 21x 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.