Special to the Register
Corresponding with its move to the New Science Building, the Department of Chemistry at Eastern Kentucky University has embraced several technology-related initiatives to enhance the educational experience for students.
ConnectKentucky recently presented the department with the Postsecondary Institution Technology Award, recognizing its implementation of technology into curriculum and operations.
“The new technologies have had a positive impact on our students learning and created a more positive attitude with students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Lori Wilson, chair of the department, who partnered with the university’s Division of Information Technology to make the improvements. “Our faculty members have a passion for teaching and learning, which has led them to adopt many broadband technologies to enhance learning as well as provide students with an improved educational experience.”
The Department, which moved in January to the university’s state-of-the-art New Science Building, teaches approximately 2,500 students per semester in both lecture and laboratory classes.
Wilson said “many of the adapted technologies improve efficiency of processes such as online sign-up of instruments, bar-coded chemical inventory, printing chemical labels, students checking in and out of the laboratory, digital signs for communications, and effective use of content management for the Web.”
Jean Marlow, director of instructional technology at EKU, said she was “pleased to have partnered with Chemistry to achieve their goal of a technology-rich environment where students can explore scientific concepts and theories and find creative ways to solve real-world problems. The collaboration between IT and Chemistry is a roadmap for all departments dedicated to using technology as a means to enhance student learning.”
The result, Wilson said, is “a better educational experience for our students and … a better place to work. Having visited about a half a dozen chemistry departments in the last year I can say with pride that our department operates at a higher level both in and out of the classroom because of the new technologies.”
Wilson noted that the rate of students who received a “D” grade or lower or withdrew from chemistry classes has dropped from 23.9 percent four years ago to 12.3 percent. Similarly, both the General Chemistry I and Organic Chemistry I rates have dropped from around 40 percent to 25.8 percent for General Chemistry and 17.3 percent for Organic Chemistry.”
While Wilson allowed that “it’s difficult to decide which technology or instructional modifications are responsible for this reduction in the number of failing students,” she added, “Given the large number of technology implementations in our courses, we are certain they have contributed to the improved success of our students.”
The award was presented at ConnectKentucky’s 2012 Tech Day, held at Northern Kentucky University. As a part of the day’s activities, an awards presentation honors businesses, students, educational institutions, and government agencies “that are making a difference in advancing broadband technologies in the Commonwealth,” according to a ConnectKentucky news release.
“The innovative ways these award winners are using broadband is helping Kentucky stay at the leading edge of the digital age, and improving the Commonwealth’s economy and quality of life in myriad ways,” said ConnectKentucky Executive Director Rene True.
EKU’s Department of Chemistry offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, chemistry teaching, biochemistry, forensic chemistry, forensic biology, and a variety of pre-professional degrees. EKU also offers a master’s degree in chemistry, an accelerated dual degree (3+2) program and a new bridge program leading to a biomedical doctorate.