© 1998 Rainer Glaser. All rights reserved.
The University of Missouri at Columbia, Chemistry 433, Computational Chemistry, WS98

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 433 (Group) Projects to engage the students in collaborative learning and to train and develop their ability to work with peers and their peer review skills.

Depending on the number of enrolled students, study "groups" might consist of individuals, or preferentially of two or three students. I want at least five "groups". Each group will carry out two projects.

The written part of both projects will be submitted to the instructor in form of an electronic report and, upon approval, this report will be hyperlinked and posted on the Chemistry 433 Project Page. Both projects will require oral presentation to the class in form of a lecture/discussion session. All projects will be evaluated via a guided peer review by all the other groups.

Working in the projects, the oral interaction with your peers and the feedback obtained through peer review, all of these mechanisms will provide you with a opportunity 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 focus on the peer group rather than your internal standards alone. Also, there will be only one grade for all members of each group.

Organizing Your Group

This should be no problem at all for most of you. Chemistry 433 is usually taken by second or third year chemistry graduate students.

A list with the names of the students in Chemistry 433 will be posted on the Chemistry 433 Course Page. This list will contain the electronic mail addresses and the majors of the students. 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.

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, January 30, 1998. Send an email note to the instructor that contains the name of the group and lists all of its members and their email addresses.

Further Information

The Collaborative Projects are being carried out in Chemistry 433 for the first time in the present fashion. 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 Projects. Let us know what works and what does not work. The Chemistry 433 Collaborative Projects 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 thesis research in the Department of Education. Thank you for you cooperation.

Absolument mon ami, l'excellence est une habitude.