Certificate in Chemistry Education
Created by Emily L. Atieh and Darrin M. York
The Certificate in Chemistry Education (CCE) is a credited, comprehensive near-peer mentorship program that provides undergraduate students with formal pedagogical training, professional development opportunities, and broad experience in teaching chemistry. The CCE program encompasses multiple upper-level courses and offers Honors students two options for incorporating this work into their Honors requirements.
This program is by invitation-only and is offered to students who perform well in General Chemistry and demonstrate interest in teaching and mentorship. Unfortunately, at this time it is not open to students enrolled in the Ernesto Mario School of Pharmacy. However, all undergraduate students may opt to participate in any of the individual components of the CCE independently.
Please use the links below to learn more about this program:
The certificate program includes a mixture of pedagogical training and instructional experience. The table below outlines the requirements.
*At least one semester of the TI program must be in teaching General Chemistry, while the remainder credit(s) may be in either General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry.
**All students must take at least two (2) credits worth of the Teaching Internship (TI) program. Students who wish to complete the CCE program as their Honors Capstone project (see the Honors Track below) will need to take one (1) additional credit worth of the internship, for a total of three (3) credits.
Introduction to Chemistry Education – 01:160:387 – 3 credits, Fall only
Also referred to as the Pedagogy Course, this course serves as an introduction to pedagogy and research in chemistry education and related fields. The course has two main components:
One 80-minute class per week
One 60-minute office hour per week for General Chemistry students
These components work together as a feedback loop between educational theory and practice, as this course aims to prepare students for the instructional components later on in the CCE program. Some of the topics include:
Theories of learning
Cognition and metacognition
Multiple representations in chemistry
Diversity and inclusion in the STEM classroom
Recent literature in Chemistry Education Research (CER)
Teaching Internship in Chemistry – 01:160:493/494 – 2-3 credits, Fall and Spring
The Teaching Internship is offered each semester for both General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. CCE participants may take 1 or 2 credits per semester; however, it is highly recommended that first-time TIs take only 1 credit in their first semester. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis, particularly for non-traditional students and students entering the CCE program as upperclassmen. All CCE participants must become a TI for General Chemistry for at least 1 credit.
The General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry TI programs operate slightly differently from one another in order to suit the individual course's needs. TIs receive weekly training and work regularly with students by assisting in recitations or lectures, or by hosting office hours, workshops, and other active learning opportunities. Experienced TIs who have demonstrated outstanding dedication and responsibility may have the opportunity to take on a leadership role, such as a Head TI, and work closely with the TI program coordinator on other aspects of the program.
Introduction to Teaching Chemistry Lab – 01:160:499 – 3 credits, Fall and Spring
This course prepares and supports undergraduate laboratory instructors for the General Chemistry laboratory course, Introduction to Experimentation (01:160:171). Undergraduate instructors are fully in charge of one section of the lab. Their responsibilities include ensuring student safety in the lab, demonstrating proper lab protocol for each experiment, assisting students during class time, being prompt with student email responses, and minimal grading.
Each laboratory instructor leads their own 3-hour section of the lab each week. Additionally, they attend a weekly training session to perform the upcoming week's laboratory experiment and brainstorm potential student difficulties under the supervision of a graduate student Head TA.
BENEFITS AND OUR PHILOSOPHY
Benefits for the Participants
Teachers are not the only ones who teach. In fact, the overwhelming majority of TIs and undergraduate laboratory instructors do not aim to pursue careers in education or teaching. Most are future doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and scientists. However, all of those fields require teaching. Doctors teach their patients, scientists teach their colleagues, pharmacists may teach their marketing team, etc. Everyone teaches someone, even if it is to convey something to the public or teach a child to tie their shoes. Knowing how to communicate ideas and recognize a person’s understanding are important skills that everyone will need.
In the process of teaching, CCE participants have stated improvements to their own learning, including their conceptual understanding of chemistry and science, their study habits, and the way they communicate their knowledge to others. Gaining such training and experience demonstrates responsibility, leadership skills, quick-thinking skills, and more to graduate/professional schools and future employers.
In addition, the program promotes networking and collaboration, as CCE students meet and work closely with professors, fellow TIs, and other students – all from a variety of backgrounds who share common interests and goals.
Benefits for the Students
Professors are the experts in chemistry. This raises the question of the usefulness of having non-experts help students in their studying. Research supports the idea that peer mentors are valuable resources to their students due to their ability to connect on the same level. Peer mentors remember clearly what it was like to study General Chemistry, to struggle, to take exams, etc. and can offer help through a unique perspective based on their own experiences as a student. Likewise, TIs serve as role models for a diverse group of students, who may look to them for advice on majors, opportunities in their field, or simply their experience as a student thus far. Being more in-tune with the needs of students, the TIs are able to focus on individual needs while the professors focus on the broader scopes of the course
The CCE and TI program are rooted in the theories of Social Constructivism, which states that people gain knowledge and skills through social interactions with others. Peer instructors are not lecturers, tutors, or teachers, but rather facilitators that help chemistry students by teaching them to construct their own knowledge and make it meaningful.
Each March, students who perform well in General Chemistry I & II receive invitation to apply for the CCE and TI Program. The application mainly requests personal/academic information, in addition to written responses for a few short-answer questions. Applicants selected from this pool are assigned group interviews in late April and receive a decision by mid-June.
Two semesters of General Chemistry serve as a pre-requisite for this course and may not be taken as a co-requisite. TIs may receive AP credits for the first semester of General Chemistry.
Please note that students must also receive satisfactory grades in Introduction to Experimentation (01:160:171). While this course is not a pre-requisite for the program, if a student has not yet taken this course at the time of the interview, their acceptance into the program is considered preliminary. Once completed, the student’s status in the program will be confirmed, pending satisfactory course performance. All decisions will be made at the discretion of the CCE program coordinator. and on a case-by-case basis.
Teaching portfolios will be created and revised throughout the entirety of the program. During or following each semester of relevant coursework, participants in the program should submit new materials to the portfolio. Progress will be monitored by the CCE program coordinator. CCE participants should plan to meet with the CCE program coordinator at least once per academic year to receive feedback on their work and ensure they are on track to complete the program prior to graduating. Students will be expected to revise their work on a consistent basis. At the conclusion of the program, graduates will retain this portfolio as formal evidence of their professional development, mentorship experience, and leadership abilities.
The teaching portfolio will consist of five main components. Rubrics and instructions will be provided for each component:
Participants should identify goals that they wish to work towards during their time in the CCE program and provide the motivation for each. Goals may include professional, academic, and personal goals. This component will be completed near the beginning of the Pedagogy Course and may be revised later.
II. Teaching Philosophy
Near the end of the Pedagogy Course, participants will develop a 1-2 page Teaching Philosophy, which details the their motivations behind teaching, beliefs and preferred methods of teaching, and learning, their intended means of of self-evaluation.
III. Coursework and Goal Achievement
For each course or other opportunity within the CCE program (or closely related to the CCE program), participants will discuss how it helped to meet or shape their goals. For each course, students should identify the most important ideas or experiences they took away, and how it pertains to the goals they wrote for themselves at the beginning of the program.
IV. Relevant Artifacts
For this portion, participants collect relevant pieces of their own work from their various experiences during the entirety of the CCE program. This may include notable workshop activities, papers or assignments, reflections, student evaluations,, etc. Accompanying each artifact should be a description and summary of how it serves as evidence of growth or achievement.
V. Final Reflection
At the conclusion of the CCE program, participants should write a personal piece, approximately 2-3 pages, in which they honestly and thoroughly reflect on their experience in the CCE program. Students should discuss what they have learned, including about themselves and others, and if and how the program impacted them.
Students in the Honors College or School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program (SASHP) may elect to participate in the Honors Track. This track is two-fold and Honors students may choose one, both, or neither of these options:
I. Honors Designation for Introduction to Chemistry Education
Honors students are required to take four 3- or 4-credit elective courses that are designated as Honors courses. Honors students taking the Pedagogy Course, Introduction to Chemistry Education, are encouraged to utilize the "contract course" option in order to receive Honors designation for this course*. Both Honors and non-Honors students will meet at the same time and place, work together, and complete identical coursework. However, Honors students will have two additional, related components to complete:
Mini Literature Review
Students create a miniature literature review on a topic within Chemistry Education Research, or a closely-related field, to be completed by the conclusion of the Pedagogy Course. The draft should be approximately 4-6 pages, and should reference multiple papers by different authors. Instructions and a detailed rubric will be provided during the Pedagogy Course.
Presentation of Mini Literature Review
At the conclusion of the Pedagogy Course, Honors students will present their findings from their written miniature literature review to their classmates in any manner that they choose. The presentation should fill approximately 15-20 minutes, including time for questions and discussion at the end. The presentation should succinctly identify the main arguments and ideas of the literature review Each audience member will complete an anonymous evaluation such that the presenter can receive feedback and assess their performance. Instructions and a detailed rubric will be provided during the Pedagogy Course.
*Please note that the decision to take the Pedagogy Course for honors credit must be made prior to the start of the class. Decisions cannot be made retroactively.
II. Honors Capstone Project
Honors students must complete a capstone project by the conclusion of their undergraduate degree. Option E allows students to partake in a certificate program and mandates the creation of a 20-25 page analytical paper in order to satisfy this capstone requirement. This paper can often be a combination of the Teaching Portfolio and a revised/expanded literature review. CCE participants should discuss and confirm their exact plan with their Honors academic advisor prior to committing to this option. All work is subject to approval by the Deans or advisors in Honors College/Honors Program.