This unique book explains the theory behind peer-led team learning, offers suggestions for successful implementation (including how to write effective group problems and how to train peer leaders), discusses how to evaluate the success of the program, and answers frequently asked questions.
It is designed as a workbook, to be used as the central focus of activity in a PLTL Workshop in organic chemistry. It is not a drill book, nor is it a self-contained guided inquiry book. As with the Workshops themselves, this book is intended to be a companion to a textbook in a lecture course. The Workshop problems are challenging, and readers need to prepare for them by studying the book, the lectures, and by working the end-of-chapter problems ahead of Workshop time.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Introduction to Workshops for Organic Chemistry
Our early research and development convinced us that the Peer-Led Team Learning Workshop helped students acquire the habits of study and thought required to be successful in organic chemistry. In the first edition of this book, we collected successful Workshop problems from a variety of sources. Our purpose was to make these problems freely available to faculty in order to lower the activation energy to implement the PLTL Workshop in their courses. Prentice Hall was a remarkable ally, publishing and distributing the text to faculty without charge. Since that time we have learned more about constructing Workshops that help students build their conceptual understanding of organic chemistry.
This second edition is designed as a student workbook, to be used as the central focus of activity in a PLTL Workshop in organic chemistry. It is not a drill book, nor is it a self-contained guided inquiry book. As with the Workshops themselves, this book is intended to be a companion to a textbook in a lecture course. The Workshop problems are challenging; they represent our sense of what we want our students to know, understand and be able to do. Students need to prepare for these Workshop problems by studying the text, the lectures and by working the end-of-chapter problems ahead of Workshop time.
Our thinking about this book has been stimulated by the idea of cognitive apprenticeship. We came to the understanding that the structure of a problem could provide the cognitive modeling and scaffolding that students need to move to new levels of skill and insight. We also constructed the problems to encourage the discussion and debate among peers that is essential to build conviction and confidence. We know that the majority of the students in an introductory organic course will not make subsequent use or even retain most of the specific content of the course. But, we also know that the BIG IDEAS and the new thinking skills that come from a yearlong study of organic chemistry are essential ingredients of a liberal education. For most students, these will be the long-term consequences of their study of organic chemistry. Accordingly, we have tried to make these outcomes explicit.
We have organized this book for intellectual, rather than temporal, coherence. The four of us use different textbooks to teach organic chemistry in different sequences. Nevertheless, we have found it easy to rearrange the Workshops to fit our own sense of timing. For most Workshops, we have given more than 2 hours worth of problems, recognizing that faculty will pick and choose those that serve their syllabus best.
We have many essential collaborators to thank. First among those are the hundreds of Workshop leaders and thousands of students who have helped to shape our ideas and these problems. John Challice, Kristen Kaiser and Prentice Hall have nourished this project from the start. Arlene Bristol and Korrie Sherry performed wonders, with patience and skill, to produce an attractive and readable book.
Jack Kampmeier, University of Rochester Pratibha Varma-Nelson, Northeastern Illinois University Carl Wamser, Portland State University Donald Wedegaertner, University of the PacificTo The Student: An Introduction To The Peer-Led Team Learning Workshop
The Peer-Led Workshop is a unique curricular structure that provides a weekly opportunity for you to engage with your fellow students in the process of constructing your understanding of organic chemistry, and developing new problem solving skills. As part of the process, you will talk, debate, discuss, argue, evaluate, ask questions, answer questions, explain your ideas, listen to the ideas of your colleagues and, ultimately, negotiate your understanding of organic chemistry with them. This process of active, personal engagement with experimental observations and with the ideas of colleagues is the way that scientists construct meaning and understanding. Practicing scientists do this in a structure called Research Group Meeting. The Peer-Led Workshop is a Research Group Meeting for undergraduates.
Each week’s Workshop is built around a set of problems that are designed to help you probe and build your conceptual understanding of a BIG IDEA in organic chemistry. Simultaneously, the problems require you to learn and practice new problem solving skills. The problems are challenging so that you will need the resources and imagination of the group to come to a good solution. We do not provide answers to the problems because the point of the Workshop (indeed, the point of higher education) is to help you learn to construct, evaluate and develop confidence in your own answers and conclusions. Ultimately, your understanding is personal and belongs to you. However, the process of testing and refining your understanding is dramatically facilitated by interaction with your peers.
Because the interaction with your peers is the key to successful learning, each Workshop is guided by a Workshop leader. This leader is not a teacher, or a teaching assistant, or an expert authoritarian answer giver about organic chemistry. Rather, the leader is a fellow student, a peer, who has successfully completed the organic course and is chosen and trained by your organic teacher to lead your Workshop. The job of the leader is to guide the interactions among the disparate participants so that the group becomes a team in which the members work together to ensure that everyone learns organic chemistry. The leader’s job is to make sure that everyone participates and that everyone learns. Your leader will be a role model, mentor, cheerleader and friend.
Workshop problems are not homework, they are designed for cooperative teamwork during the Workshop. That does not mean that there is no homework in the organic course. You need to prepare for the Workshop in order to be a participating, contributing member of the Workshop team. That means you have to study the text, attend and study the lectures, and do the assigned homework problems from the text before you come to Workshop. Each Workshop begins with a statement of Expectations. These key words and ideas should help to guide your preparation for the Workshop.
You may be familiar with workbooks that drill you on the empirical knowledge that is associated with learning a particular subject. This is not that kind of workbook. We assume that you are already skilled at acquiring knowledge. This book is focused on the development of conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills; i.e. on the organization and application of knowledge and ideas in organic chemistry. This book is a workbook in the sense that it provides space for you to make notes, record the results of the team work and reflect on the point of the problem and the big ideas. Each Workshop ends with a Reflection section that invites you to identify gains in your understanding and skill. If you use your workbook well, it should become an effective tool for review for exams.
There are many rewards from the study of organic chemistry. It is a powerful and wonderful way to understand many aspects of our natural world. The interplay of molecular structure and chemical and physical properties is one of the foundational ideas of modern science. In contrast to the prevailing student mythology, organic chemistry is a coherent, rational subject with an accessible theory to make sense of the wealth of observations. It is also a subject of enormous practical consequence for our health and well-being. Organic chemistry is also exceptionally well-suited to the development of powerful cognitive skills that are general and transferable to other areas of study and decision making. In 1964 Benjamin Bloom compiled a taxonomy of cognitive skills, organized in a hierarchy from the simplest to the most complex: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Successful work in organic requires you to function at all of these levels. The Workshop problems are designed to help you learn the requisite thought processes.
Finally, it is important for you to understand the central position of students, you and others in the Workshops. We cannot teach you organic chemistry; at best we can help you learn the subject. In the end, you will not acquire our understanding. Instead, there is the exhilarating prospect that you will build your own view of organic chemistry and make your own contributions to our understanding. Thousands of students have already done that. We are grateful to them. It is a special pleasure to acknowledge the inspiring and motivating contributions of hundreds of Workshop leaders. They have tested most of these Workshops and provided a unique window to the student perspective.
Jack Kampmeier, University of Rochester Pratibha Varma-Nelson, Northeastern Illinois University Carl Wamser, Portland State University Donald Wedegaertner, University of the Pacific4
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