5 Strategies to Maximize Chemistry Course Delivery Online and Off

Many chemistry teachers had to quickly switch to remote instruction this spring. However, expectations for fall are much higher. There are many learning environments that institutions are exploring, which present unique challenges and opportunities to maximize student achievement in a time of uncertainty.
Instructors must take into account many factors when planning fall courses, including how to develop content for synchronous and asynchronous instruction, and how to prevent cheating in online exams. You will find peer-tested strategies and tips to improve teaching and learning online and offline.
These tips were shared during the Summer of Learning Webinar Series by Math & Science Faculty.
1. You can structure assignments using a variety activity types to break them down into chunks.
Research shows that students learn best when they have a variety of practice and small-sized activities, rather than trying to master a single skill or topic for a long time. You can make it easier for students to complete smaller assignments every week, rather than one large weekly assignment. You can also try assigning different activities, such as multimedia, mastery, and end-of chapter problems. This will allow you to approach the material in a different way. For synchronous instruction, you can record lecture videos in 5- to 10-minute lengths. This will help students stay engaged and more focused. These strategies will increase the likelihood that your information will stick.
These sessions are recorded so you can learn more
Optimizing your Course for Online Delivery with OWLv2
Lifelong learners: Teaching students how to learn
Instructor Panel: 5 Real-Life Examples of Tools Used to Create and Deliver Videos

2. Regular, structured communication helps students stay on task.
A survey of over 2,000 college students revealed that 80% felt COVID-19 had a negative effect on their mental health. How can you keep students engaged and on-task in this environment? It is important to offer “face-to face” support during virtual office hours. However, it is also important to be available for one-on-one support. To strengthen your student-teacher relationship, you can also use gradebook to send personalized messages both to high-performing and at-risk students. One Chemistry instructor suggests creating a FAQ page for students who send them emails with technical or content-related questions. Interactivity does not have to be limited only to course content. One student enjoyed the weekly discussion board “Corona Rants” where students could vent their frustrations and build a sense community with their peers.
These sessions are recorded so you can learn more
Instructor Panel: Teaching during COVID-19
Student Panel: How to Keep Students Motivated and Engaged in Online Courses

3. Preparation tools can give students the one-on-one support they require
Assisting students in the beginning of the semester is an essential part of ensuring a successful course. You must help them navigate the syllabus and guide them to the course materials. Students will feel unprepared when they enter your course. Give students time to get familiar with the technology that will be used in your course. This will ensure a smooth semester start. The OWLv2 Introductory Assignments can be helpful in explaining navigation, assignment structure, and other technical information. Offering self-paced review can help you address learning gaps. You can level-set your students by using diagnostic and preparation tools, such as Quick Prep or Math Review, before the course starts or during the first week.
These sessions are recorded so you can learn more
Supporting the unprepared student
OWLv2: How to Get Started

4. Rethink your goals regarding online learning environments and assessments.
Instructors want academic integrity in these difficult times. However, it is impossible to eliminate online cheating. This is why you need to focus on what you can do about it. Online proctoring is the first thing instructors think of to curb cheating in online exams. Even if you don’t have an online proctoring service, there is still a way to design exams to prevent cheating. You can set a time limit to ensure students don’t have to search for answers they don’t know. Or, you can create a password to prevent them from accessing any test before the time runs out. To generate different variants for each student, you can also use a database with algorithmic questions. While all students will be tested on the exact same concepts, each student will receive questions with different numbers and chem.

Author: Victoria