Wed, 24 Nov 2021
Events, Seminar Series

Dr. Brett McCollum

Mount Royal University

Chemical thinking in a connected post-pandemic world: leveraging systems-thinking and online collaborative learning for student success

Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Room C9002 @ 3:30 p.m.

Host: Dr. Paul Percival



Over the past decade, student engagement with traditional learning materials has changed substantially. The global COVID-19 pandemic necessitated even more extensive changes in the ways that faculty, teaching assistants, and students connect and interact. As we (hopefully) move toward a post-pandemic environment in higher education, how can we identify and capitalize on the more effective teaching and learning innovations of recent years?

McCollum will describe how his team is using quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine what students are doing and thinking when problem-solving in chemistry. He will share how online video conferencing between students in Canada, the United States, and Ireland – before and during the pandemic – has improved mechanistic thinking and facilitated the development of professional identity. He will also present how a systems-thinking approach to nuclear energy has resulted in one of the most popular elective courses at the university. McCollum’s results illustrate how chemistry education research can support a scientific approach to the teaching of science.


Brett McCollum is a Professor of Chemistry and the Board of Governor’s Teaching Chair for Educational Leadership at Mount Royal University. Dr. McCollum is a 3M National Teaching Fellow, a Nexen Scholar of Teaching and Learning, and the education columnist for the Chemical Institute of Canada. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CJSoTL) and until recently served as the Past-Chair of SoTL Canada.

An alumnus of the SFU Chemistry Department (BSc 2004; PhD 2008) and former TRIUMF researcher, McCollum published in the field of muon spin spectroscopy before being accepted into a 2-year faculty training program on pedagogical research. For over a decade, McCollum has devoted his research efforts toward understanding the student learning experience and improving educational outcomes in chemistry.

His passion for identifying and adopting evidence-based practices through chemistry education research and the scholarship of teaching and learning has been recognized through the MRU Distinguished Faculty Award (2017), the Undergraduate Research Supervision Award (2019), and the Student Association Open Education Champion Award (2020).