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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 14 Issue 4 (2008) pp 190-194

Integrating a Service-Learning Application into University Chemistry Curricula: A Case Study Utilizing a Constructed Stormwater Wetland

Joseph Ivan Wirgau* and Bethany Bodo

Department of Chemistry and Physics, Radford University, Box 6949, Radford, V.A. 24142,
Received July 14, 2008. Accepted July 1, 2009

Published online: 22 December 2009

Abstract. To provide students with better preparation for engaging in complex, real-world problems and a more realistic understanding of scientific inquiry, Radford University developed and assessed a laboratory curriculum testing the effectiveness of an on-campus wetland. This article contains an overview of a 10-period laboratory block in environmental chemistry designed specifically for junior- and senior-level chemistry majors at Radford University. Although the length and specifics of the module are tailored to test a specific environmental site, the expectation is that the module can be adapted to any environmental site and that pieces of the project can be used when such a large block of laboratory time is not available. Assessment of student perception by pre- and post-testing demonstrated an increased confidence with multiple standard techniques, a closing of the gap between the importance of an ability and their sense of preparedness, and an increase in their ability to design their own research project. Pre- and post-testing of student knowledge demonstrated significant gains overall and in data collection. Little effect was seen on their ability to analyze data, which is attributed to the high degree of previous student laboratory experience. One notable exception was an increase in knowledge of how to determine precision.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; Service-Learning

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (96 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Included in the supporting information are the teaching module for the first two years for baseline environmental sampling and testing, the teaching module for the last two years for an independent study of Radford University’s wetland, an example of group assignments and time line for limited equipment, an example sampling sheet, the student knowledge assessment test (for the perception and skills assessment test contact the author), an example of metadata, and a student planning guide for the student projects (780 KB)

Issue date: Dec, 31, 2009

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