Introducing New Laboratory Experiments in the Analytical Chemistry Curriculum

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Byron Gates, Department of Chemistry

Project team: Kelsey Duncan and Nolan Parker, research assistants

Timeframe: January 2019 to August 2019

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: CHEM 316 – Introductory Instrumental Analysis

Description: The Analytical Chemistry courses have largely focused on techniques and materials that equipped students with skills necessary for a diverse range of jobs in the Analytical Sciences, but have not been updated in recent years to include experiments that are both timely (e.g., introducing students to emerging trends and techniques) and engaging to the students (e.g., inspiring the students through the use of new materials and methods) in their approach to quantitative analysis of chemical species. In this project, we will search for existing experiments and protocols, and adapt these to our own needs within the context of our course (e.g., using existing equipment resources). From here we will launch into the design of our own experiments, utilize the expertise and equipment available at SFU while also keeping in mind the sustainability of these experiments in the long term.

Questions addressed:

  • How did these experiments change students’ understanding of nanoscience and its applications to the analytical sciences?
  • What did students understand to be the goals of the experiment(s)?
  • Could students follow the instructions?
  • Did this experiment change students’ ability to critically assess experimental results?
  • Are changes to the experiment required and if so what kind (e.g., procedural, material)?

Knowledge sharing: We plan to present our findings and the experimental plans, and consider next steps for implementation of the results through informal discussions with other faculty members and staff. These include presentations given—in addition to the undergraduate volunteers on the project—to the members of the Chemistry Undergraduate Student Society at SFU for their input on what is of particular interest to them for further development, seeking to identify experiments that engage a broad cross-section of our undergraduate student body.

We aim to present the results informally to colleagues in the Department of Chemistry at SFU, as well as more formally at future local events (e.g., BC Science Teachers Association), and national conferences (e.g., the annual Canadian Chemistry Conference, which hosts an on-going set of symposia on the development and advancement of Chemical Education).