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May 11, 2021 Webinar Speakers

Our next webinar will take place via the internet on Tuesday May 11th at 8PM EDT/1AM GMT. Sign up on our mailing list to receive the Zoom link!

We hope to see/hear from you all at one of our sessions or as one of the next speakers. If you are an early career scientist and would like to present your research, don't hesitate to submit an abstract today! For now, please learn more about our current speakers and their research below. We also thank the generous support from Cell Reports Physical Science.

Our featured speakers this week are Dr Paulette Vincent-Ruz (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Michigan, USA) and Dr. Nicole James (Postdoctoral Researcher, Northern Illinois University, USA). The seminar will be guest moderated by Jake Yeston from Science Magazine.



Biography: Paulette is a Postdoctoral Associate in Chemistry Education at the University of Michigan. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico and obtained her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh. Thanks to her unique combination of Chemistry disciplinary knowledge and Education she became the first chemistry education researcher named a Future Leader in Chemistry in the year 2019 by CAS.

Title of Talk: My Journey to QuantCrit: How the Scientist Met The Fugitive In The Borderlands

Abstract: As a gateway to STEM, Chemistry Education Research (CER) has a moral imperative to progress toward more equitable student engagement with the sciences. While efforts to reform classrooms are ongoing, quantitative methods used in research can further propagate the marginalization and minoritization of specific student groups. This leads to the question “Can quantitative methods, long critiqued for their inability to capture the nuance of everyday oppression, support and further an equity agenda in CER overall?” Here, we present advancements in the framework of QuantCrit published across education research. While QuantCrit introduced 5 tenets toward identifying and avoiding oppressive quantitative practices, few works in CER employ tenants of QuantCrit resulting in “hyperpersitent” gap-gazing and deficit-oriented interpretations of student-level data that continue to marginalize specific student groups, despite best intentions. One of the barriers to applying QuantCrit is that it is hard to find advice on how to apply the principles empirically and how to make sure these principles are consistent with the researcher’s chosen theoretical framework. To support initiatives in CER seeking to transition to more equitable quantitative methods, suggestions for applying principles of QuantCrit to CER will be discussed.

DR. NICOLE JAMES (on Twitter @NicoleMJames1)

Biography: Nicole is a post-doctoral scholar at Northern Illinois University, where she teaches introductory chemistry and conducts Chemistry Education Research (CER). Nicole has a PhD from the University of Chicago, where she studied the surface chemistry of soft matter systems and was heavily involved in the University’s teaching center and Collaborative Learning in Chemistry program, where her teaching efforts were heavily informed by the education research literature. Following graduate school, she chose to integrate her passion for teaching and research and immerse herself fully in CER. Nicole will be starting as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Reed College in August 2021.

Title of Talk: Pedagogical reform in introductory chemistry: What type of learning is improved?

Abstract: Introductory chemistry has far-reaching interdisciplinary applications in the physical and life sciences. Thus, when students struggle in introductory chemistry it presents a barrier to success and retention in STEM broadly. In order to better support all STEM students, it is crucial to improve student outcomes in introductory chemistry. Here we investigate the impact of a deliberate practice-driven pedagogical reform in a large lecture, introductory chemistry course. Three concurrent sections of this course were taught in Fall 2019. Two sections maintained ‘traditional’ departmental teaching practices; one section piloted a reform informed by social constructivist and deliberate practice learning theories. We characterize teaching through course observations and exam item coding; we characterize student outcomes through pre/post-surveys, exam scores, course grades, and focus group discussions. Students in the reformed course have enhanced course grades and attitudes towards chemistry. However, in the pre/post-survey, none of the sections show improvement in conceptual learning. We hypothesize that, fundamentally, the students learn the skills that the curriculum emphasizes. While reformed teaching practices may improve how much students learn, the curriculum itself drives what students learn. This highlights the importance of holistic reforms that incorporate both pedagogical and curricular innovations.

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