Effectiveness of the active learning in organic chemistry faculty development workshops
Active learning has been shown to improve student outcomes and learning, yet organic chemistry instructors have been slow to adopt these pedagogies. The Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops, and Communities of Scholars (cCWCS) Active Learning in Organic Chemistry (ALOC) workshops have sought to facilitate the adoption of active learning methods by helping participants define active learning and understand best practices, persuading them to incorporate these practices into their teaching, and supporting their implementation efforts through an online community, Organic Educational Resources (OrganicERs.org). The effectiveness of the workshops was measured over a two-year period using teaching self-efficacy and teaching practices instruments. Comparison to pre-workshop self-efficacy surveys found significant and sustained gains for knowledge about and belief in the efficacy of active learning methods (d = 1.18 compared to pre-workshop responses) and confidence in intention to implement (d = 0.60). Belief that they were implementing more active learning in their classrooms (d = 0.85) was corroborated by the teaching practices survey and survey of class time allocation which also showed statistically significant (p < 0.001) and sustained growth in student centered teaching (d = 1.00), formative assessment (d = 1.04), student–student interactions (d = 0.96), and the amount of class time spent with students working in groups (d = 0.68) for the workshop participants. Gains for participants in the 3 hour Active Learning in Organic Chemistry workshops at the 2016 Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) were smaller than those in the 4 day ALOC workshops, but still meaningful. These results indicate that the 2015 and 2016 Active Learning in Organic Chemistry faculty development workshops effectively increased participants’ knowledge about, belief in the efficacy of, and implementation of active learning methods.