Do your students hate chemistry? Don’t worry,
it’s a common situation. Chemistry and other similar subjects are usually taught from a
problem solving perspective, and many students don’t have the skills to do this very well.
As a result, students can feel uncomfortable, fearful, or even overwhelmed. The true keys
to success in General Chemistry are the same as in music, sports and many other disciplines…practice,
practice, practice. Psychologists tell us that the most meaningful learning is achieved
through extended intermittent engagement with a subject. That’s where ChemVantage comes
in. ChemVantage is a free online resource for teaching and learning college-level General Chemistry.
ChemVantage has lots of free resources, like links to free online textbooks, short video
lectures on more than 30 different topics common to most General Chemistry courses,
online quizzes with randomized questions. When students click a quiz assignment link
in their learning management system, they are taken directly to the quiz, which is a
random selection of short-answer, multiple choice and checkbox questions on a particular
subject. After scoring, students are provided with feedback on the questions that they missed,
and they’re invited to repeat the quiz with a new set of questions to improve their score.
Electronically graded homework assignments that contain challenging numeric problems.
The problems are parameterized, so students cannot exchange answers with each other, but
they can help each other learn the algorithms for solving the problems. And practice exams
on many different topics. Practice exams consist of a combination of short-answer questions
and numeric problems. They give students the opportunity to challenge themselves in a private
setting, and thereby reduce anxiety over in-class exams. Does it work? In large General Chemistry
classes at a flagship state university, students achieved average quiz and homework scores
of about 90 percent, even though each assignment counted for only about 1 percent of the overall
course grade. But the real success story is that students who scored at least 50 percent
on the ChemVantage assignments passed the course with a grade of C- or better 97 percent
of the time. Now despite all of this work, students really like ChemVantage, and they
rate ChemVantage an average 4.4 out of 5 stars. ChemVantage connects directly with your learning
management system using LTI, a standard from the IMS Global Learning Consortium, that lets
your LMS handle passwords and security. ChemVantage even sends the assignment scores back to the
grade book for any LMS that supports LTI version 1.1 or higher. You can get a free set of LTI
credentials for ChemVantage at http://www.chemvantage.org/lti/registration/ And the best part is, it’s all free. How do we do all that? Well, it’s simple.
First of all, we write all of the content in ChemVantage ourselves, so we don’t pay
royalties to to book publishers or anybody else. Second, ChemVantage is powered by Google
App Engine, which provides nearly infinite scaling at extremely low cost. And finally,
ChemVantage has an intuitive interface that requires very low user support. To find out
more about ChemVantage, point your web browser to chemvantage.org today. Even if you don’t
have an LTI connection, you can create a free account by logging in with your AOL, Yahoo
or GMail credentials. My name is Chuck Wight, and I built ChemVantage for the benefit of
students in my General Chemistry classes. Your students will love it, too.