Chemistry Coalitions, Workshops and Community Scholars (cCWCS): www.ccwcs.org
The National Science Foundation, and other agencies, have supported numerous projects which have led to the development of new pedagogies and curriculum materials for college-level instruction in chemistry. cCWCS provides resources for the dissemination of new pedagogies and the presentation of chemistry in a variety of modern contexts. The program supports faculty development workshops and the development of communities of instructors who range from novices to experts. Participants are equipped with new insights, hands-on experiences, and support for the implementation of effective pedagogies and activities in their own classrooms.
The overarching goal of the project is to support the dissemination, implementation and adaptation of effective pedagogies by chemistry instructors (and those in related disciplines) at a variety of institutions, ranging from community colleges to four year institutions and research-intensive universities. Key activities include: An annual series of week-long workshops on a variety of topics (e.g., Chemistry in Art, Forensic Science, Computational Chemistry, Green Chemistry, Laboratory Learning, Food Chemistry); two and three-day ﾓmini-workshopsﾔ (e.g., iPads in Chemistry, Active Learning in Organic Chemistry, Writing Case Studies for General Chemistry); reunion symposia at national conferences; and web-based communities (e.g., Organic Educational Resources, www.organicers.org). cCWCS provides small grants in support of local dissemination and implementation projects.
The project engages approximately twenty teams of workshop leaders. Workshops on topical areas of chemistry model a variety of pedagogies. Particular emphasis is placed on workshop instruction that provides the participants with experiences in active, learner-centered approaches. Theoretical frameworks for professional development based on a close partnership between workshop participants, and with workshop leaders, include Vygotskyﾒs zone of proximal development, Lave and Wengerﾒs community of practice (COP) approach to learning and change, and Rogersﾒ theory of innovation diffusion.
Over the last 15 years, more than 3,000 faculty members have participated in workshops sponsored by cCWCS and precursor CWCS program. Faculty participants report a number of learning gains and successful implementations. Many have obtained significant levels of institutional support for their curriculum reform projects, developed new collaborations and taken new leadership roles (e.g., as co-instructors of subsequent workshops and through development of their own dissemination activities).
Professional development opportunities for instructional faculty supports the adoption of effective pedagogies and curriculum reform on a national scale. Thousands of faculty, from hundreds of institutions, have learned about, and gained hands-on experiences with, new pedagogies and curriculum materials. Their adaptations of workshop materials have been disseminated at workshops, in peer-reviewed publications, at national conferences, in textbooks and on websites.
Unexpected challenges: Difficulty in the creation of online communities of faculty to enhance post-workshop participation. Solutions: Higher level of involvement by PI than expected; outsourcing aspects of site development.